French Interior Minister calls for reopening of mosque implicated in Paty murder

French Interior Minister, Gérald Darmanin, addressing parliament during the recent debate on security legislation.
French Interior Minister, Gérald Darmanin, addressing parliament during the recent debate on security legislation. AFP - BERTRAND GUAY

In the wake of the resignation of M'hammed Henniche from his position as rector of the north Paris Pantin mosque, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin has called for the reopening of the establishment, closed for the past six months following the brutal murder of schoolteacher Samuel Paty.


The north Paris mosque was closed last October, following accusations that some associates of the establishment had contributed to the on-line campaign against Samuel Paty, a civics teacher, beheaded on 16 October after using caricatures of the Prophet Mahomet in a class on free speech.

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin has now called for the reopening of the mosque, following the resignation of rector M'hammed Henniche, and the nomination of a new board of directors.

"The managerial structure of the Pantin mosque has been completely overhauled," the minister wrote in a Tweet. "I therefore call on the local police chief to contact the new management team with a view to reopening the mosque as soon as possible."

M'hammed Henniche had been head of the Pantin Muslim Association since 2013, and was recently re-elected. He resigned on Sunday. Henniche will be replaced by Dramé Abderrahman.

Mosque Facebook page carried Paty video

The mosque, frequented by a congregation estimated at 1,300, was closed after the establishment's Facebook page republished a video involving the father of a student who was implicated in the events leading to the murder of Samuel Paty.

Two court appeals for the reopening were rejected.

Minister Darmanin insisted that the establishment would remain closed until both the rector, Henniche, and the imam, Ibrahim Doucouré, agreed to leave. Doucouré has already departed.

The police chief of the Seine-Saint-Denis area, which includes Pantin, last November withdrew the cultural status accorded to religious associations in France, saying the mosque represented a danger to public order. 

Doubt over million-euro building project

That decision forced the suspension of a million-euro building project organised with the town of Pantin, intended to replace the current mosque.

M'hammed Henniche said he was standing down to ensure the future of that project, and also so that the faithful could return to their mosque. He will continue to work as secretary-general of the Seine-Saint-Denis union of muslim associations.

He has consistently denied any tendency to islamic fundamentalism.

The Pantin mosque is expected to reopen on 15 April.


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