Shia Islamic centre raided in France; 11 arrested

Paris: A Shi’ite Muslim faith centre was raided by French police on Tuesday. Three of its leaders were arrested on suspicion of links to terrorist organizations. They allegedly possessed illegal weapons. France is home to Europe’s largest Muslim community.

The raid was conducted, at the headquarters in northern France of a Shiite Islamic association, by around 200 police officers at Centre Zahra France in Grande-Synthe, a suburb of the port city of Dunkirk.

While arresting 11 people, the French authorities also froze the financial assets of the centre headed by Yahia Gouasmi, who is known for his anti-Zionist views and links to Iran. According to the association website, its purpose since its foundation in 2009 has been “to make known the message of Islam through the eyes of Ahle-Bait”.

France is still on high alert after a wave of jihadist attacks since 2015 from which 246 people have lost their lives.