An influential Turkish religious association founded by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s mentor has no place in France because it goes against French values, the government spokesman said on Thursday.
The Milli Gorus association has courted the controversy in France in recent weeks by refusing to participate in a government-coordinated charter against Islamist extremism and by supporting a new mosque in the eastern city of Strasbourg.
Tensions between Paris and Ankara are also high after a series of feuds between Erdogan and President Emmanuel Macron, who last week warned that Turkey would meddle in the 2022 presidential elections.
“I consider that it is an association which goes against the values of the (French) Republic, which fights against the values of the Republic, against equality between women and men, against human dignity”, Gabriel Attal said in an interview with BFM TV.
“Obviously, he should not organize activities and exist in the Republic,” he added, while stressing that he was not announcing that the organization was banned.
Milli Gorus is one of three Islamic groups in France which in January refused to subscribe to an anti-extremism charter defended by Macron after a series of attacks blamed on the radicals.
Based in the German city of Cologne, Milli Gorus is a pan-European movement for the Turkish diaspora founded by the late Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan, considered the father of political Islam in Turkey and the mentor of Erdogan.
Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has moved away from Milli Gorus in recent years, but his conservative values remain close to those of the president.
According to his website, Milli Gorus is “a key player in the life of Muslims in France”. He helps with pilgrimages, funerals, the construction of mosques and religious instruction.
In an interview with Le Point magazine published on Thursday, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin warned that the state had “nothing to negotiate” with groups that refused to sign the charter and would strengthen control over their activities.
“The fact that some associations did not wish to sign it revealed this dark world of foreign interference and extremist movements operating on our soil,” he said.
French lawmakers are currently debating a bill to crack down on Islamist extremism seen as aimed at limiting the influence of religious groups with foreign funding and restricting their role in education.
Strasbourg officials, led by a green mayor, earlier this month approved a € 2.5million (nearly $ 3million) grant to Milli Gorus for the construction of a new mosque, sparking a backlash of anger on the part of the government.
© 2021 AFP