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French Interior Minister Calls For 'Dissolution' Of Some Mosques

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 16/11/2015 Nick Visser
ATHENA IMAGE © STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN via Getty Images ATHENA IMAGE

The interior minister of France has called for the dissolution of "mosques where hate is preached" following a string of attacks that left at least 129 people dead across Paris. Bernard Cazeneuve made the comments during an interview on French television, according to a report by MSNBC.

The minister has long been an advocate for addressing the concerns of the country's five million Muslim residents, particularly after January's attacks at the Charlie Hebdo office. But Cazeneuve has also made significant efforts to curb homegrown extremism. France increased surveillance at religious and cultural centers earlier this year and has been cracking down on supposed radicalization in prisons. 

Around 7.5 percent of the country's inhabitants are Muslim, but some 60 percent of prisoners are, according to a 2014 report.

France has also deported 40 imams -- Islamic spiritual leaders -- since 2012 for "preaching hatred." Nearly a quarter of those deportations happened in the first six months of this year.

“Foreign preachers of hate will be deported [and their mosques] will be shut down," Cazeneuve told Agence France-Presse earlier this year.

Marine Le Pen, the leader of France's far-right National Front Party, tweeted out a hashtag that translates to "IslamicTerrorist" following the attacks as other leaders have urged for a reevaluation of the European migrant crisis. Nicolas Sarkozy, the former president and current leader of the country's main opposition party, called for a new foreign policy. He urged President François Hollande to rethink immigration policy and tighten laws against those who visit radical websites or travel to international jihadist sites, the Financial Times reports.

Muslims around the world have stood in solidarity with the victims of Friday's attacks and defended themselves against a massive spike in Islamophobia. A group of imams gathered outside the Bataclan concert hall Sunday morning to pray and sing the French national anthem with mourners. 

Analysts have warned that a backlash against refugees could be exactly what the Islamic State wants.

“Anti-Muslim and anti-refugee sentiment really play into ISIS' hands," Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told The WorldPost. “The more that happens, the more French Muslims feel alienated and are susceptible to extremist recruitment.”

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