The French authorities say they will close the Muslim publishing house “Nawa Editions” because it has distributed several books legitimising jihad.
The right-wing Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin announced the decision in a tweet, saying: “I have initiated the procedure for the dissolution of the Islamist publishing house ‘Nawa,’ in particular because of the distribution of several works legitimising jihad. A measure to freeze assets targeting the association and its leaders has also been taken.”
Government sources say the publisher, which is based in Ariège in southwestern France, has an editorial line that is “clearly anti-universalist and in direct contestation of Western values.”
On its website, Nawa publishing house describes itself as an organisation that aims to “promote human and political sciences born of Islamic heritage” and “contribute to the revitalisation of these disciplines by studying the Western world and sciences, modern political ideology and doctrines.”
It is not clear which books the government has identified as “legitimising jihad” and the website of Nawa Editions is not functioning at the moment. However, the books available for sale on its Facebook page seem to be the usual books one would expect to find in an Islamic bookstore on the Quran, hadith and Islamic history, as well as prominent Islamic political figures such as Sayyid Qutb.
Nawa Editions said the accusations are without foundation and the decision was purely political.
“As you would have learned via the media our organisation is under threat of imminent dissolution for purely political reasons,” Nawa Editions said in a statement. “Unfortunately we have witnessed recent events and the direction that the French political model has taken which expresses itself in arbitrary dissolutions. But this is a first – the dissolution of a publishing house. Our books and translations are in the crosshairs. But we and thousands of our readers know very well that these accusations are baseless.”
Over the last year, the French authorities have closed down the nation’s biggest Islamic charity and its main anti-Islamophobia organisation for alleged extremism. They have also targeted mosques and imams.
Idriss Sihamedi, the head of the Muslim charity BarakaCity, said: “The government has become radicalised. We are facing an ideology which simply wants to fight against Islam and Muslims, to regulate Islam and Muslims and impose on them administrative punishments.”