Unfinished Strasbourg mosque a lightning rod for French-Turkish tensions - VoA

An unfinished mosque in the French city of Strasbourg has become a lightning rod for French-Turkish tensions, VoA said on Thursday.

Last month, local authorities approved a multi-million euro grant to the Millî Görüş Islamic Confederation to complete building work on the Eyyub Sultan mosque.

Millî Görüş is a Turkish Islamist movement that shares an ideological affinity with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP).

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin has repeatedly stated his opposition to the movement, which he says should not have been given the grant over its failure to sign-up to a new anti-extremism charter.

Darmanin reiterated his position again on Tuesday, threatening to dissolve Millî Görüş and other “enemies of the (French) Republic” during a radio interview, according to VoA.

Turkish and French officials have clashed over the question of Islam in the past. In October, Erdoğan accused French President Emanual Macron of targeting Muslims following the murder of French teacher Samuel Party by Islamic extremists.

“The Turkish government wants to use this (Strasbourg) mosque and Millî Görüş as a kind of soft power," VoA cited KU Leuven University's Erkan Toguslu as saying.

"It uses Turkish mosques, Turkish associations and the Turkish diaspora in Europe for its own policy, not to defend Muslim interests," Toguslu said.

Last month, Macron warned Turkey could seek to interfere in presential elections scheduled for next year. However, VoA said it was doubtful how much influence Turkey had in France, where Muslims with a Turkish background only make up 700,000 of the roughly 6 million-strong Muslim population.

France’s Turkish community is also geographically dispersed and deeply divided over attitudes towards Erdoğan, VoA said.

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