The Pantin mosque will reopen on Friday April 9 with a new rector and a new imam at its head, the prefect of Seine-Saint-Denis, Georges-François Leclerc, announced on Wednesday April 7.
→ MAINTENANCE. Terrorism: “the threat is reconfiguring itself”
This mosque of about 1,300 faithful had been closed for a period of six months, on the instruction of the Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin. He criticized in particular his officials for having relayed on Facebook the video of a father of a pupil at the origin of the gear that led to the murder of Samuel Paty, on October 16 in Conflans-Saint-Honorine (Yvelines).
Two conditions sine qua non
In his viewfinder thus appeared the imam of the Pantin mosque, trained in Yemen and suspected of being “Involved” in this movement. The latter had resigned on October 26.
→ EXPLANATION. Why was the Pantin Mosque ordered to be closed for six months?
An insufficient measure for the Minister of the Interior and the Prefect of Seine-Saint-Denis, who had set a sine qua non for the early reopening of the mosque before Ramadan (mid-April): the departure of its rector , M’hammed Henniche. Indeed, in court, the representative of the Ministry of the Interior considered that the mosque was “Frequented by radicalized individuals” and that’“Being president of the mosque, Mr. Henniche could not ignore it”.
M’hammed Henniche, who is not the subject of any legal proceedings, apologized for sharing the video – “An awkwardness”, he regretted – but refused to withdraw. In mid-March, this 50-year-old entrepreneur, secretary general of the Union of Muslim Associations of Seine-Saint-Denis (UAM 93), finally gave in, paving the way for the reopening of the place of worship.
A new mosque in suspense
In November, the prefect of Seine-Saint-Denis had also withdrawn from the association which manages the mosque its cultic character, on the grounds that its activities had “Undermined public order “. A decision which had the consequence of rendering null and void the attribution by the city of Pantin of an emphyteutic lease, for a period of 99 years, for the construction of a large mosque. It is the fear of seeing this compromised project that convinced M’hammed Henniche to withdraw.
The situation “Embodies a logic of arm wrestling”, denounced Vincent Brengarth, one of the lawyers of the Muslim federation of Pantin, who tried twice, and without success, to cancel the closure of the mosque at the administrative court and before the Council of State.
“It takes proportions in terms of attack on associative freedom. It is not the role of the Ministry of the Interior to decide who should be at the head of an association ”, pleaded Me Brengarth.
Deprived of “their” mosque, the inhabitants of Pantin deplored this blockage, forced to go to pray at the mosque in the neighboring town of Drancy.