By The Free Iranian Staff
On Monday, a court in the northern French commune of Dunkerque has sentenced Jamel Taheri, former Mullah of the Zahra Center at the Dunkerque suburb of Grande-Synthe to a six-month suspended prison sentence. The man was charged with “inciting anti-Semitism”.
On September 4th, Taheri’s trial, was held before the Dunkirk Criminal Court. Taheri has also been sentenced to a fine of €2,000 for publishing an “anti-Semitic” article. The article, originally published in a newspaper in Cameroon, and described as provoking racial hatred and “a sort of anti-Jewish diatribe” was posted on the website of the Zahra Center on Friday, December 9, according to French judicial sources.
The French Interior Ministry had then filed a complaint with the Paris court seeking the prosecution of Zahra’s then-president; the Paris court transferred the complaint to local jurisdictions in Dunkerque. On March 9th, French Interior Minister Christophe Costner announced that he had called on members of the cabinet to dismantle the Zahra Center and other affiliates because it was constantly trying to build “legitimacy” for armed jihad.
At the beginning of October 2018, the Zahra center had been the object of an administrative search because of its supposed links with terrorist movements.
During a counterterrorism operation carried out by the governor of Nord on October 9th, 2018 at the Zahra office, several weapons were seized. Subsequently, the treasurer of the Zahra Association was sentenced to a six-month suspended prison sentence and a six-month suspended prison sentence for unauthorized possession of these weapons.
The Interior Ministry ordered the dissolution of the Zahra Center in March 2019. The Administrative Court of Lille rejected the Zahra Association’s protests last May against the Nord governorate’s decision to close the Shia religious center for a six-month temporary closure.
France says the Zahra community, a Shia center in France, is backed by the Iranian government. Paris officials accused the center of trying to “spread Shiite fundamentalism across Europe”.