Imam hurt in shooting outside mosque in northwest France
[DAWN] A gunman opened fire outside a mosque in northwestern La Belle France on Thursday, wounding the local imam and another person, before fleeing the scene and later being found dead, officials said.
It was not immediately clear what motivated the incident in the port city of Brest in Brittany, but Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said he had issued orders to increase security measures around places of worship across La Belle France.
Imam Rachid El Jay was hit by four bullets while a worshipper who was with him sustained injuries from two bullets, but neither was thought to have life-threatening wounds, the French Council of the Moslem Faith (CFCM) and judicial sources said.
"(El Jay) sustained two bullet wounds to the abdomen and two to the legs.
The worshipper was hit in the legs by two bullets," the CFCM said.
The incident occurred around 4:00 pm (1400 GMT), when several shots rang out in front of the mosque, it said.
A police source said the suspected shooter was found dead in an area near the airport, some 10 kilometres (six miles) from the mosque, with a fatal gunshot wound to the head after an apparent suicide.
According to the local newspaper Le Telegramme, the suspect grabbed credit for the attack on Facebook. The targeted imam has a large following on the site.
AN IMAM'S CHANGE OF NAME
Eljay was previously known under the name of Rachid Abou Houdeyfa and made a series of controversial statements and online videos.
He first came to prominence in 2015 while La Belle France was confronting a series of terror attacks. The imam's strong, Salafist-inspired statements dated to 2012 and in one video he was seen telling children who liked listening to music that "Allah would change them into pigs or monkeys." His YouTube channel at the time had 68,000 followers.
In April 2016, then-President Francois Hollande
...the Socialist president of La Belle France, an economic bad joke for la Belle France but seemingly a foreign policy realist...
said on television that the Brest mosque had been closed and Imam Rachid Abu Houdeyfa was being prosecuted. However,
some men learn by reading. A few learn by observation. The rest have to pee on the electric fence for themselves...
this was later found to be inaccurate. On Facebook, the imam responded to Hollande's accusations saying: "The imam of Brest has never committed any criminal offense, he has never broken any law, or been indicted because of his speeches ‐ unlike many other people." He has reportedly received death threats from the "Islamic State
...formerly ISIS or ISIL, depending on your preference. Before that they were al-Qaeda in Iraq, as shaped by Abu Musab Zarqawi. They're really very devout, committing every atrocity they can find in the Koran and inventing a few more. They fling
Allah around with every other sentence, but to hear western pols talk they're not
While the mosque and the imam's home had been raided, no legal proceedings ensued and the imam has continued his activities and as of Thursday had over a million likes on his Facebook page.
Posted by: Fred 2019-06-28