French police raided Wednesday the home of Muslim NGO BarakaCity’s founder and arrested him, the organization, which broadcast the raid live on its social channels, said. Idriss Sihamedi, the NGO’s president, was beaten up and arrested in front of his four children.
France24 A French Islamic charity has been accused of raising funds for jihadist groups in Syria, in a case that is worrying other Muslim NGOs who fear being branded as supporting terrorists.
Arrested was Idriss Sihamedi, the head of Islamic NGO BarakaCity that allegedly provides food, clothing and medical help to civilians in Syria, Gaza, and Jordan. “Muslim associations are the subject of a growing number of serious allegations,” he said. Earlier this month, RTL radio accused BarakaCity of working beyond its remit – namely Islamic recruitment.
The NGO advertises itself as a humanitarian charity. It was set up in Paris in 2012 to provide medical and food aid to the war-torn Syrian population. It is currently under investigation for allegedly giving financial and material support to terrorist groups. One of its directors, Nabil O is accused of embezzling the NGO’s funds before joining an armed group in Syria at the beginning of 2014. The case went before a Paris court in November.
AA.com No official statement has yet been made by the authorities but Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin had recently accused Sihamedi of “condoning terrorism.”
“Search this morning at the home of the president of BarakaCity,” he wrote on Facebook and Twitter, along with images “of the beds turned over, tables broken, baskets and linen turned over.” “Idriss was violently beaten by a police officer who pressed his head against the [floor] tiles while he was not resisting and cooperating.”
In a press conference on Tuesday, he said a total of 73 mosques, private schools and workplaces have been closed since the beginning of this year “in the fight against radicalization.”
The raid is one of many that took place across France following President Emmanuel Macron’s announcement to fight “Islamist separatism” in the country. He argued that “Islamic separatism” was problematic, and added: “The problem is an ideology which claims its own (sharia) laws should be superior to those of the republic.”
Sihamedi had called for a united Muslim response to Macron’s attempts to control Muslim public life and private beliefs. Macron’s speech was widely criticized by French Muslims due to fears that the bill, which will be submitted to parliament in December, could trigger abuse against them.
Some NGOs or organizations which “act against the law and values of the country” might be closed or face tight financial audits, according to the controversial plan. It has sparked criticism, with some representatives of the Muslim community describing the move as Islamophobic and discriminatory.