France: Police arrest Muslim NGO head in raid

15th Oct 2020
France: Police arrest Muslim NGO head in raid

By Alaattin Dogru

 

PARIS (AA): French police raided Wednesday the home of Muslim NGO BarakaCity’s founder and arrested him, the organization, which broadcast the raid live on its social channels, said.

Idriss Sihamedi, the NGO’s president, was beaten up and arrested in front of his four children.

“Search this morning at the home of the president of BarakaCity,” it wrote on Facebook and Twitter, along with images “of the beds turned over, tables broken, baskets and linen turned over.”

“Idriss was violently beaten by a police officer who pressed his head against the [floor] tiles while he was not resisting and cooperating.”

A BarakaCity employee later filmed the interior of the premises, showing torn switches, broken surveillance cameras and doors, books and files completely turned over.

No official statement has yet been made by the authorities but Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin had recently accused Sihamedi of “condoning terrorism” before deleting his tweet.

In a press conference on Tuesday, he said a total of 73 mosques, private schools and workplaces have been closed since the beginning of this year “in the fight against radicalization.”

The raid is one of many that took place across France following President Emmanuel Macron’s announcement to fight “Islamist separatism” in the country.

He argued that “Islamic separatism” was problematic, and added: “The problem is an ideology which claims its own laws should be superior to those of the republic.”

Sihamedi had called for a united Muslim response to Macron’s attempts to control Muslim public life and private beliefs.

Macron’s speech was widely criticized by French Muslims due to fears that the bill, which will be submitted to parliament in December, could trigger abuse against them.

Some NGOs or organizations which “act against the law and values of the country” might be closed or face tight financial audits, according to the controversial plan.

It has sparked criticism, with some representatives of the Muslim community describing the move as Islamophobic and discriminatory.

*Writing and contribution by Busra Nur Bilgic Cakmak in Ankara

 

[Photo: Stand of BarakaCity at a Muslim event in Paris, France, in April 2017. Photographer: Mohatatou/Creative Commons]

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