A shocking new report from the Hollywood Reporter on Friday reveals that the site of the Cannes Film Festival in France sits just 600 meters from a mosque linked to Islamic jihadi terrorism.
Thirty-seven years ago, at the age of 32, Moustapha Dali quit show business. An Algeria native, he’d begun to build an acting career in France but tired of his Paris agents telling him he’d have to change his name to one “less Arabic, more French.” As Dali recounts it, “I told them I wanted to keep my name. I said Omar Sharif didn’t change his name, but they said, ‘He’s not a French actor, he works in Hollywood.’ ”
Today, at age 69, the scholarly, erudite Dali is the soft-spoken but righteous rector of the Mosquee Al Madina, the main mosque in Cannes, which sits above the Croisette, just 600 meters from the Palais des Festivals. Although he once dreamed of being in their company, Dali watches the annual influx of movie stars descending on the Croisette “as if they are a bunch of martians landing. We’re so near, but I know they have no idea of what’s really going on here.”
Dali inhabits another world, one far removed from the festival’s red carpets, swank parties and luxury suite wheeling-dealing: Instead, he lives on the front lines of France’s increasingly explosive relationship with its more than 5 million Muslim residents. His mosque was used — without his knowledge, he says — in 2012 as a rendezvous point for one of the most dangerous terrorist cells in French history. And in late 2015, his mosque’s imam, or prayer leader, was rousted from his home in the early hours of the morning, accused of encouraging radicalism and told he no longer could work there — although the charge later was dropped and the young man received an apology.
While relations between France and its Muslim population long have been tense, the tension has escalated as the Cannes Film Festival gets underway amid heightened security in the wake of terrorist bombings in Paris and Brussels. Recent reports from Senegal via Italian intelligence warned of possible terrorist attacks on beaches in the South of France and Italy, raising the specter of small bombs, planted under deck chairs and hidden inside cans of energy drinks, just waiting to detonate.
Read the full story at the Hollywood Reporter.