An influential Turkish religious association founded by the mentor of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has no place in France as it goes against French values, the government spokesman said Thursday, according to Agence France-Presse.
The Milli Görüş (National View) association has courted controversy in France in recent weeks by refusing to take part in a government-coordinated charter against Islamist extremism and over its backing of a new mosque in the eastern city of Strasbourg.
Tensions between Paris and Ankara are also running high after a series of rows between Erdoğan and President Emmanuel Macron, who warned last week that Turkey would meddle in the 2022 presidential elections.
“I consider that this is an association which goes against the values of the [French] Republic, which fights against the values of the republic, against equality between women and men, against human dignity,” Gabriel Attal told BFM TV in an interview.
“Clearly it should not organize activities and exist in the republic,” he added, while emphasizing he was not announcing that the organization was being banned.
Milli Görüş is among three Islamic groups in France which in January refused to sign an anti-extremism charter championed by Macron after a spate of attacks blamed on radicals.
Based in the German city of Cologne, Milli Görüş is a pan-European movement for the Turkish diaspora founded by the late prime minister Necmettin Erbakan, regarded as the father of political Islam in Turkey and Erdoğan’s mentor.
Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has in recent years distanced itself from Milli Görüş but its conservative values remain close to those of the president.
According to its website, Milli Görüş is a “key player in the life of Muslims in France.” It assists with pilgrimages, funerals, the construction of mosques and religious instruction.
In an interview with Le Point magazine published Thursday, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin warned that the state had “nothing to negotiate” with the groups that refused to sign the charter and would step up controls of their activities.
“That certain associations did not wish to sign it has revealed this shadowy world of foreign interference and extremist movements operating on our soil,” he said.
French legislators are currently debating a draft law on cracking down on Islamist extremism seen as seeking to limit the influence of religious groups with foreign funding and restrict their role in education.
Officials in Strasbourg, run by a Green mayor, earlier this month approved a grant of 2.5 million euros (nearly $3 million) to Milli Görüş to build a new mosque, sparking an angry reaction from the government.