Salafist mosque contests its closure before France’s State Council

The Yvelines prefecture has accused the Ecquevilly Mosque of calling for “discrimination and hate and violence.” The association in charge of running the mosque responded by denouncing amalgamations between salafism and jihadism. On November 2, the prefecture had called for its closing under the State of Emergency. There are no known ties to foreign networks, but the prefecture opposed the discourse of its imam, Yassine B.

On Monday, the Ecquevilly Mosque contested its closure before the State Council. The prefecture had accused the mosque of being “an influential place of worship in the salafist movement…calling for discrimination and hate and violence against women, Jews, and Christians,” adding that the imam “legitimated in a sermon,” the 2015 Paris attacks. The prefecture justified its closure by stating that “younger and younger individuals have begun to frequent salafist mosques,” which pose a security risk.

The mosque’s lawyers spoke before the State Council, stating: “We don’t see how the fight against terrorism would attempt to silence all forms of Islam in France for the sole reason that they don’t adhere to all the pillars of a Republican Islam.”

The imam denounced what he saw as a “State trap,” and contested any accusations that he had encouraged terrorism. The administrative court confirmed the mosque’s closing, as well as the prefecture’s accusations against the imam, whose statements regarding Islam and women were said to, “incite hate, discrimination, and disrespect for the laws of the Republic.”

The discourse “has already had negative effects on social cohesion in Ecquevilly for reasons of religious pressure, notably felt by women, who are ‘insufficiently’ veiled or not veiled at all. [This pressure] is in turn absorbed by children,” the magistrate stated.

The Interior Ministry representative described an “insidious message, which instilled idea in the community that, in the end, the [Paris] attacks were tolerable.”

In its retort, the association stated that the mosque adheres to quietist and apolitical salafism, rather than “revolutionary salafism,” which constitutes the “jihadist movement.” The association said it has “always condemned” terrorism and violence. It insisted that “none” of its worshipers, to its knowledge, were on the terror watch list or under house arrest.

“Jihadism” does not exist in Islam

July 6, 2014

In a recent op-ed, Hocine Kerzazi speaks of the growing “jihadist movement” and explores the origins of jihad in Islam. Kerzazi speaks to both France’s Muslim population and to scholars around the world who study Islam.

He states that “nowhere does the Qur’an gives the term ‘jihad’ the sense of armed conflict, that of which is designated by the expression “qital” (combat, war.) The sense of ‘jihad,’ meanwhile, is fundamentally associated with the inner struggle between man and his ego.” According to Kerzazi “jihadist preachers” are guilty of shifting the meaning of Islamic legal terminology. Their arguments are taken from the eschatological tradition, namely situations of genocide that are justified in apocalyptic situations.

Jihadists added another concept to this tradition called “blood bath” (al-harj) that justifies the call to kill. In the past, the khawarij had used this to legitimize the killing of innocent peoples with the intention of pleasing God. In this way, those who call for civilian killings can, at the same time, oppose war. Kerzazi adds that the Islamic tradition is not one of “18th century pacifism” in the manner of Kant or Saint Peter. Islam, in that sense, rejects “perpetual peace” as a utopia.