MUSLIMS at a mosque which was closed after it was accused of being “a breeding ground for Jihadists” will now worship under the watchful eye of CCTV.
Following a nationwide crackdown on extremism, intelligence officials in France have demanded the al-Rawda mosque install an extensive surveillance system.
The al-Rawda mosque, which is located in Stains, an impoverished suburb north-east of Paris, was closed down by the interior ministry in November 2016 after it was identified by French intelligence officials as a “breeding ground for Salafi-jihadists”.
It was one of the 30 mosques to be shut down under the country’s two-year emergency rule, which allowed authorities to shut down "radical" places of worship without prior warning.
French counter-terrorism officials started keeping a close eye on the mosque after it was found that two top Islamic State (ISIS) propagandists – Adrien Guihal and Fabien Clain – had prayed there regularly before fleeing France to join the terrorist organisation in Syria.
Mosque officials agreed with the interior ministry on a set of conditions under which the prayer hall – which can welcome up to 1,400 worshippers – must now run.
Before reopening, the mosque had to commit to installing CCTV cameras both inside and outside the prayer hall: one by the entrance to monitor worshippers’ comings and goings and five inside the prayer hall.
Mosque officials then had to set up a website to “visibly condemn all messages of a radical nature,” and a surveillance team whose job is to keep watch on local worshippers and look out for suspicious behaviour.
They also had to replace the imam – an extremist suspected of preaching radical Salafism, a fundamentalist strain of Sunni Islam, and of encouraging Muslim youths to join the jihad – with a moderate preacher ‘pre-approved’ by the interior ministry.