TEHRAN -- A senior Iranian rights official has called on France to revise laws targeting the Muslim minority across the European country after the French government ordered the closure of nearly two dozen more mosques in a fresh assault on freedom of religion.
Kazem Gharibabadi, the secretary-general of Iran’s Human Rights Office, made the call in a Saturday tweet, days after France’s Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin appeared on the French television LCI and said 21 mosques that showed signs of “extremism” had been closed in the country.
The minister said the French security forces had carried out raids at 99 mosques on suspicion of extremism, and closed 21 of the mosques in question while the process of closing 6 others was underway.
“In western approach, terrorists in Iran are human rights defenders and religious freedom in their own countries is tantamount to terrorism! The French Interior Minister: 21 mosques were currently shut and 6 will be closed soon based on laws against extremism and separatism,” Gharibabadi wrote.
“We call on France to revise its anti-Muslims laws that target France’s 5.5 million minority Muslims, their worship places, educational and other centers,” he added.
The hostile move by the French government is seen as yet another Islamophobic attack targeting the country’s persecuted minority Muslim community, which has in recent years faced deep marginalization and a witch-hunt campaign.
Earlier in the year, the lower house of the French parliament approved a controversial bill targeting religious freedom and stigmatizing Muslims, while tightening rules on the funding of mosques, associations, and non-governmental organizations belonging to Muslims.
The bill also targeted Muslim girls under the age of 18 by banning the wearing of hijab - a headdress worn by Muslim women - in public places.
More than 5 million Muslims live in France, the largest Muslim population in Europe.