[News] France's high court rules Emmanuel Macron's mosque ban illegal

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Apr 27 11:27:48 EDT 2022

France's high court rules Emmanuel Macron's mosque ban illegal

Ali Abunimah <https://electronicintifada.net/people/ali-abunimah> - 26
April 2022
[image: Large crowd holding signs and marching]

A rally in Paris earlier this month against both top candidates in France’s
presidential election, which incumbent Emmanuel Macron won on 24 April. Two
days later, France’s high court declared illegal a Macron administration
order to close a mosque whose leader criticized Israel.

Days after his re-election victory, President Emmanuel Macron has suffered
a major defeat at the hands of the Muslim community in Pessac in
southwestern France.

On Tuesday, the country’s highest administrative court, the Conseil d’Etat,
threw out a government decree ordering the closure of the Bordeaux suburb’s
Farouk mosque for six months.

Macron’s interior ministry issued the order earlier this year on the
pretext that the mosque was spreading hatred against France and Israel and
inciting terrorism.

In reality it amounted to revenge and collective punishment
for the mosque president’s criticisms of Israel’s crimes against
Palestinians and of Macron’s harsh anti-Muslim policies.

It was also a transparent effort to increase Macron’s appeal to racist
voters in the run-up to the presidential election in which he faced off
against far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

Last month, a lower court in Bordeaux threw out the order, calling it
disproportionate and “a grave and manifestly illegal violation of the
freedom of religion.”

Gérald Darmanin, the interior minister, took the case to the Conseil d’Etat
in an effort to reinstate the order.

But the Macron administration lost.

The high court in Paris confirmed
that by ordering the mosque’s closure, the prefect of Gironde, the interior
minister’s regional official, had “taken a police measure that constitutes
a grave and manifestly illegal infringement of the freedom of worship.”

🔴 [Communiqué exclusif] Victoire! La mosquée de Pessac gagne la procédure
devant le Conseil d'état: le recours du Ministère de l'intérieur rejeté!
pic.twitter.com/DcRNnWaoIP <https://t.co/DcRNnWaoIP>
— Sefen Guez Guez (@Me_GuezGuez) April 26, 2022

In its decision, the Conseil d’Etat “rejected the appeal of the interior
ministry and once again vindicated the Pessac mosque,” Sefen Guez Guez, the
Muslim congregation’s lawyer said
<https://twitter.com/Me_GuezGuez/status/1518943207077392390> on Tuesday.

According to Guez Guez, the court found that “nothing in the case presented
by the interior ministry supports an accusation against the mosque for
inciting terrorism.”

Many of the ministry’s justifications for closing the mosque
were ludicrous on their face.

They included a social media post by Abdourahmane Ridouane, the mosque’s
president, quoting Nelson Mandela supporting Palestinian freedom.

Ridouane had also angered the government by criticizing it for banning a
group that combats anti-Muslim prejudice, and calling Gaza, where Israel
cages, besieges and regularly bombs a mostly refugee Palestinian
population, a “concentration camp.”

Guez Guez noted that the Conseil d’Etat ruling sets a legal precedent.

That’s important because the Macron administration has increasingly
resorted to closing mosques and banning groups with whose opinions it

Amnesty International has termed
the government’s 2020 order dissolving CCIF, the group fighting anti-Muslim
bigotry, “a shocking move” that could have “a chilling effect on all people
and organizations engaged in combating racism and discrimination in France.”

In addition to targeting Muslim communities, the staunchly pro-Israel
Macron has used similar repression against supporters of Palestinian rights.

In February, he ordered the dissolution
of two French Palestine solidarity groups.

The Farouk mosque’s lawyer Sefen Guez Guez praised the popular mobilization
by members of the community and supporters across France. He said that
their activism, along with the legal battle, meant that the mosque “had not
been closed for a single minute.”

“It won at every stage, before the administrative tribunal in Bordeaux and
at the Conseil d’Etat.”

This video shows mosque president Ridouane addressing supporters in Paris
on the day of the hearing at the high court:

“The mosque is a place of worship but it’s not only that. Every evening we
distribute free meals, so it doesn’t only affect Muslims,” Janna, a
19-year-old student, told *Bondy Blog*
earlier this month.

She was one of the many community members who made the 400-mile trek from
Bordeaux to the capital to support the mosque during the hearing at the
Conseil d’Etat.

That sort of charitable and community work is especially important during
Ramadan, when the mosque has been hosting iftars
every evening offering hot meals to anyone.

With Tuesday’s court victory against Macron’s anti-Muslim and
anti-Palestinian repression, the upcoming Eid al-Fitr holiday celebrating
the end of the fasting month will be sweeter than ever.
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