France to inspect scores mosques in 'unprecedented' move: minister
France is set to inspect 76 mosques in a "massive and unprecedented" operation as part of the country's 'anti-separatism' drive, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Wednesday.
Darmanin said authorities will monitor and control 76 mosques, including 16 in the Paris region. The places of worship could face closure, while at least 18 of them are subject to "immediate actions" instructed by the interior minister, according to a government circular seen by Le Figaro.
Last month, Damarnin said that France has closed 43 mosques since President Emmanual Macron took office in 2017.
The lastest move is part of France's ramped-up 'anti-separatism' drive, which Paris says seeks to root out extremism. The sweep has intensified following the beheading of school teacher Samuel Paty in October after he showed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to his students.
Prior to Paty's killing, and other attacks that galvanised the 'anti-separatism' drive, Macron had promised a tough new campaign against "Islamism" which drew international condemnation.
Protests against Macron's perceived Islamophobia erupted across the Muslim world, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Mali, Mauritania, Lebanon and Yemen.
World leaders have also weighed in on the matter, with Macron and Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan trading barbs and insults.
Last month, a coalition of European Muslim organisations penned an open letter to the French leader slamming his alleged opportunistic behaviour and targeting of minorities.
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