The imam of a mosque in France has been sacked at the behest of Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin after he recited a verse from the Quran and a hadith which were deemed “derogatory to women.”
Mmadi Ahamada, the imam of the Great Mosque of Saint-Chamond, will also now face being deported as authorities are working on not renewing his French residency permit.
Quoting from Surah al Ahzab and a hadith addressing the wives of the Prophet (pbuh), Ahamada told a congregation at Eid prayers last Tuesday: “Stay in your homes and do not show off like women before Islam… obey your husbands” and “Do not be too complacent in your language with the one whose heart is sick, that is to say the hypocrite.”
But Darmanin demanded that the authorities make use of the new anti-separatism law to sack the imam on the grounds that the verse and hadith were “contrary to the values of the Republic.”
Darmanin was alerted to the comments after Isabelle Surply, a member of the Municipal Council of the Republican Party, shared a video of the sermon online. She posted a 22-second passage of the 25-minute sermon, which was widely relayed by supporters of her party.
The Interior Minister then asked the Loire Governor’s Office to dismiss the imam and ensure that his residence permit is not renewed, on the grounds that “he finds these statements unacceptable” and “sees them against gender equality.”
But speaking to Le Progres website, Ahamada said some of the statements and verses in the sermon were taken and used out of context. “Our girls do not have to stay at home, they become doctors, engineers or pilots,” he added.
In a message on social media the mosque administration announced that the imam had been dismissed, but it wasn’t their decision.
And the Loire Governorate said it was working on not renewing the imam’s residence permit. He is originally from the Comoros Islamds.
Support for the imam
Meanwhile, over 5,000 people have signed a petition in support of the imam.
The petition states: “This same imam advocates the divine command for every man to be good, loving, and righteous to his wife and children. Just like their wives, every man must obey the rights of his Creator and those of their companions.
“From a political point of view, this drift must be denounced and condemned. A good Muslim in the light of this political-media cabal is a Muslim who is no longer one. A Muslim who must abandon worship, conscience, principles and values to come under the narrow reading of Republican principles.
“If this decision is confirmed, it is the beginning of a case law that will silence many places of worship. Which denomination among the three monotheistic religions does not condemn the lack of modesty or the well-defined place within couples of the two genders?”
Meanwhile, another imam whose criticism of the dress style of some Muslim women in a sermon he gave on June 4 at the Gennevilliers Mosque was also terminated by Darmanin’s order.
The Interior Minister also asked the governor to intervene and to suspend the mosque’s activities if a similar sermon is repeated.
“On my request, two imams who gave unacceptable sermons in Hauts-de-Seine and Loire were dismissed. We will fight tirelessly against those who oppose the rules and values of the Republic,” he said on Twitter.
France: A country of concern
Meanwhile, the Council on American Islamic Relations renewed its call on the U.S. Department of State to designate France among the “Countries of Particular Concern.”
“We once again call for France to be designated as a Country of Particular Concern for its unrelenting crackdown on the religious freedoms of French Muslims, their spiritual leaders, houses of worship, private schools, and civil society organisations,” said CAIR Director of Government Affairs Department Robert S. McCaw.
“French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin is one of the worst Islamophobic offenders in the French government, using his position of state power to sideline and repress the religious liberties of French Muslims. The French government has no business picking a choosing which verses of the Torah, Bible or Quran conform to their ‘Republican values.’”
CAIR said over the past 20 years, France has implemented numerous laws designed to limit and punish the free exercise of religion, especially among Muslims. France has banned students, teachers, and public servants from wearing visible signs of their faith, including hijabs, at school or at work.
French law also forbids people from wearing religious face veils in public, while simultaneously requiring them to wear medical face masks. Muslim women in some areas of France have also been fined by police for wearing full-body swimsuits.
CAIR has also issued a travel advisory warning American Muslims against traveling to France amid the French government’s “hypocritical and dangerous” campaign of Islamophobic bigotry targeting French Muslims, mosques and Islamic organisations.