The 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 it an association that goes against the values of the (French) Republic, which fights against the values of the Republic, against equality between women and men, against the 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 that refused in January to subscribe to the 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 said in recent years that it is distancing itself from Milli Gorus, but the organization continues to promote a program close to that of the president.
According to his website, Milli Gorus is “a key player in the life of Muslims in France”. He helps in the construction of mosques and in religious education.
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 tighten control over their activities.
“The fact that certain associations did not wish to sign it revealed this obscure world of foreign interference and extremist movements operating on our soil,” he declared.
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.
The French census only records the country of birth rather than ethnic origin. However, it is estimated that up to 1.8 people of Turkish origin live in France.