Three people, including an imam, were arrested in Villiers-sur-Marne, a suburb east of Paris, after police discovered up to 20 Muslim youngsters were enrolled in the illegal school, said France’s Interior Minister, Bernard Cazeneuve.
Local authorities discovered the students, aged 6 to 12, were attending Koran classes at the mosque’s illegal school every day.
The Al-Islah mosque raid, ordered under the state of emergency, enabled local authorities to “confirm the existence of an underground Koranic school, which operated despite being unregistered, and where children are at risk of indoctrination,” said the French Interior Minister.
According to Val-de-Marne prefecture officials, who ordered the police raid, the Islamic school had the potential to “indoctrinate children and turn them into young Jihad recruits”.
The illegal school, ‘l'école des Petites Abeilles’ or ‘The Little Bee School’, was set up around two years ago, and up until yesterday, classes were being held inside the mosque’s own religion classroom.
Saïd Merabet, a spokesperson for the Al-Islah mosque, said: “We rented the school a big room on the first floor, but we were under the impression that everything was in order; three or four teachers took turns to teach class.
“We’re low on funds. Renting out that classroom allowed us to pay the mosque’s electricity bill.”
Twelve jihadists affiliated with the Al-Islah mosque were arrested in April for trying to reach Syria and join the jihadi movement there.
Mr Merabet said: “People speak a lot of nonsense about our mosque, which is demoralising. We’re not radical Islamists. Every Friday, our imam preaches about the need to fight extremism.”
All three people arrested, including the mosque’s imam, are currently being held in custody until the police are positive all three are in possession of a valid residence permit, said the interior minister, who added the French government was doing everything to “fight radical Islam”.
Posted by Women Against Shariah on Friday, September 2, 2016