Radical Mosque near Montpellier Under Investigation by French Interior Minister

A picture taken on October 27, 2015 shows the Mosque of Lunel, southern France. AFP PHOTO / PASCAL GUYOT (Photo credit should read PASCAL GUYOT/AFP via Getty Images)
PASCAL GUYOT/AFP via Getty Images

A radical mosque in the commune of Lunel near the city of Montpellier is the focus of an investigation by the French Interior Ministry, having already been placed under surveillance in December.

The el Baraka mosque was under scrutiny five years ago after 20 local jihadists left France to join Islamic State in Syria and is again under investigation by Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin.

According to a report by Metropolitain, Darmamin’s office launched a large-scale operation to “eradicate Islamist separatism” which has included the seizure of documents for a tax audit and a separate judicial procedure against the el Baraka mosque.

Part of the investigation revolves around the expansion of the place of worship, which was proposed initially in 2019 when the imam and the mosque’s managers requested a building permit to extend it.

El Baraka is one of 76 mosques the French government placed under surveillance since December. However, it was not one of the nine mosques that the government closed last Friday. Some were shuttered because they violated safety standards, and others had been built illegally.

The move comes after French President Emmanuel Macron promised to crack down on radical Islamist ideologies following the murder of French teacher Samuel Paty in October.

A Chechen teen refugee killed and beheaded Mr Paty in the street after the teacher had shown cartoons of the Islamic prophet Mohammed to his class during a lesson on free speech. At least one mosque helped amplify a social media campaign against Paty before his death.

Since the murder, Macron and his government have shut down several associations linked to radical Islamist ideologies including the NGO Barakacity.

Following the group’s closure, its founder and former head Idriss Sihamedi took to social media to request asylum from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“I would like to request political asylum for myself and my team since I am not safe in France on behalf of our NGO,” he said.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)breitbart.com

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