BarakaCity may soon be over.
This Muslim humanitarian NGO, created in 2008 and whose premises are in Evry-Courcouronnes (Essonne), is threatened with dissolution.
However, in the eyes of the authorities, his charitable activities are less in the crosshairs than the personality and the controversial ideology of its president, Idriss Sihamedi.
To justify its dissolution, the Ministry of the Interior refers to "messages published online from the accounts of the association or (those of its president)" which "provoke very many comments hostile to the West, to secularism, to freemasons or even to Muslims who do not share the conception of Islam promoted by the association ”.
40,000 followers on Twitter and 48,000 on Facebook
A conception of Islam rarely mentioned, on the facade, by BarakaCity, but very significant in the speech of its president.
Influential and prolific on social networks, he alone has nearly 40,000 subscribers on Twitter and 48,000 on Facebook.
His recent attacks on the former "Charlie Hebdo" journalist, Zineb El Rhazoui, and RMC columnist Zohra Bitan have earned him nearly 10,000 subscribers.
The association has more than 700,000 on Facebook.
That is more than the NGO Médecins sans frontières (591,000) and almost the equivalent of Greenpeace France (800,000).
Essonne: who is Idriss Sihamedi, the founder of BarakaCity who attacks Zineb El Rhazoui?
Relapsed into anonymity on a media level since March 2019, and the dismissal of the investigation for "financing of terrorism" and "terrorist criminal association" targeting his association, Idriss Sihamedi has become more and more virulent since the back to school 2020. At the same time, the government announced its bill on separatism, and the trial of the 2015 attacks was in the news.
September 3, 2020. Facebook
In a Facebook post dated September 3, Idriss Sihamedi recalls, according to him, that “NOBODY can offend our prophet.
May Allah curse Charlie and set their graves on fire in the heat of the sun ”.
A week earlier, on August 27, he wrote on Twitter that “to die a martyr is the most beautiful thing in the life of a believer […] This is what makes us different from them.
Love death as they love life.
This is what Mohamed Merah, the scooter killer in Toulouse had said to the Raid police: "Me death, I love it as you love life".
August 27, 2020. Twitter
Despite his controversial words, Idriss Sihamedi can count on many religious and political intermediaries, especially on the left.
As evidenced by the signatories of a support petition in his favor following the searches at Barakacity: Houria Bouteldja, spokesperson for the Indigènes de la République, Taha Bouhafs, journalist and indigenous activist or the CCIF (Collective against Islamophobia in France ), also threatened with dissolution by the government.
Pro football players as supporters
There are also professional footballers such as Mehdi Tahrat (former Ligue 1 player) Alayxis Romao (current En Avant Guingamp player, in Ligue 2) or Jacques Faty, or Fatih.
Originally from Epinay-sous-Sénart (Essonne), this convert played at the Olympique de Marseille and now lives in Turkey, where he has just obtained local nationality.
He is also increasing support for Turkish President Erdogan on his social networks.
"He's good, he did a good job for Turkey," he said on the RMC set in June 2017.
Every morning, the news of your department seen by Le Parisien
Your email address is collected by Le Parisien to enable you to receive our news and commercial offers.
"This type of personality with money is exactly the target of BarakaCity," comments a connoisseur of the Islamist movement.
People who sincerely converted to Islam, but who are being taken in.
Contacted, Jacques Faty did not respond to our requests.
These generous donors to the NGO - it is 100% funded by donations - fill the coffers of BarakaCity.
According to its founder, it has thus raised nearly 16 million euros in four years of activity.
Effective communication and "Islamophobic attacks"
If the NGO is so successful in federating, it is because it is a past master in the art of communication.
On his site, you can watch neat videos, which combine Emmanuel Macron's speech, war scenes and incentives for mobilization.
In 2016, BarakaCity's popularity exploded when Moussa Ibn Yacoub, a member of the association, was imprisoned for 70 days in Bangladesh and then released following a mobilization.
Its success allows Sihamedi to reach French Muslims, especially in neighborhoods.
On his social networks, he is refining his political discourse and making “Islamophobia” his hobbyhorse.
According to him, Muslims are victims of the French anti-Islam state.
To support his thesis, the activist encourages them to film and broadcast any search or arrest that would target them.
He does not hesitate to relay in abundance the slightest incident against Muslims in the country.
March 15, 2019. Twitter
Even if it means going astray, as on March 15, 2019, when the official BarakaCity account urgently reports an “Islamophobic aggression” at the mosque of Moissy-Cramayel (Seine-et-Marne).
"The faithful were beaten by at least two individuals, beer was poured into the mosque itself," writes the association.
Problem: as "Le Parisien" indicated the same day, these facts never existed, since it was in reality a woman (hospitalized in psychiatry after his arrest) who insulted the faithful and their threw in a can of soda before getting back into his car.
"We talk about BarakaCity, projects, but its real facade is Islam"
Enough to question the real purpose of BarakaCity, which remains sober on its religious aspect.
"Our goal is to help the needy all over the world" presents the association on its website.
In 2013, in an interview given at the Paris Air Show, Idriss Sihamedi was made clearer: “We are talking about BarakaCity, the
Water is Life project,
but behind, its real facade,
, is Islam.
The man who interviews him is none other than Mehdi Kabir, a former Salafist imam of Villetaneuse (Seine-Saint-Denis) with a troubled past.
This imam had in particular created controversy by declaring in April 2013 “that Allah will transform certain human beings into apes and pigs” - before “regretting” his words.
Idriss Sihamedi's ideology came to light in 2016. Invited by Canal + to the “Supplement
, the presenter asks him if he “condemns” the Islamic State.
Sihamedi is tackling, believes the question "bothers" him because it is asked of him as a Muslim.
Before entering the set, he had also refused to shake hands with the Minister of Education at the time, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, because she is a woman.
During confinement, Idriss Sihamedi was also delighted to be able to say "no" to a woman who wants to shake his hand.
"It's weird to see halal things becoming normal," he added.
March 15, 2020. Twitter
Does this behavior make him a Salafist?
He rejects the label.
“Salafist, takfist, quietist, pietist, Islamist, fundamentalist, rigorist, polemicist!
These are all the terms used by media and newspapers to say that I am a Muslim who does not have the same ideas as Chalghoumi
(Editor's note: an imam representing a moderate Islam),
”he tweeted in September 2018.
ISIS chants on his computer
In 2017, during a search, the police discovered in his computer five anasheed (religious songs) of the Islamic State as well as a copy of “Dar Al Islam”, an official magazine produced by the terrorist organization.
His lawyers respond that these songs were “among thousands of audio files, ranging from rock, classical music to Hollywood sound effects.
As an organization, the association explains the fact of sometimes holding files to dissect content, this is true for the IS magazine which was downloaded to precisely take into account the death threat published in the 'place of Mr. Rachid el Jay (the Imam of Brest) and to demonstrate that Muslims are the primary targets of these groups.
However, it does not share its substance.
"Even if he denies it, Sihamedi has everything Salafist: he does not shake hands with women, has an obsession for Jews, does not wear a mustache but a full beard, wears pants rolled up at the ankles ..." analyzes a former member of the intelligence services.
"He also wears the qamis (long garment) and the kufi (white hat)", supports another observer of the Islamist movement.
PODCAST. BarakaCity: who is Idriss Sihamedi, the president of the controversial association?
BarakaCity: who is Idriss Sihamedi, the president of the controversial association?
"He is a Salafist claimed in the look, the behavior with women, and hollow, in the speech, abounds a connoisseur of Islamist networks.
And at the same time, like other of his Salafist peers, he has for some time been developing a “Frerist” discourse
(Editor's note: which relates to the movement of the Muslim Brotherhood)
by addressing social issues.
He interferes in the public debate, that makes him a hybrid profile.
For another connoisseur of the Islamosphere, Sihamedi is a "Salafist on the religious level, and a Muslim Brother on the political level".
"Salafists are generally in favor of the power in place and do not get involved in politics," he adds.
He is a
March 16, 2019. Twitter
“It is dangerous, reacts Thibault de Montbrial, lawyer of Zineb El Rhazoui.
He is someone who masters the vocabulary and the law and what he does has a double logic.
Harassment and designation.
It's like what is called in military parlance laser illumination for bombing.
The bombs are all the tweets that come in afterwards.
Then there is in the people who follow him, a residual part bordering on violence that risks taking action.
The lawyer asked Twitter for the social network to intervene.
But nothing worked.
From religious proselytism to politics
For observers, the fact that Idriss Sihamedi takes part in the public debate by involving BarakaCity is not trivial.
“At the moment, he is abandoning religion to practice politics,” said one of them.
Be careful, he does not believe that he will take power through the ballot box, on the other hand, he intends to impose his religious norm on French Muslims.
With BarakaCity, this proselytizing involves charity.
A charitable activity that touches and brings together crowds.
"He does not pronounce himself as a Salafist or a Muslim Brother, because he wants to cast a wide net," explains a former RG.
To place oneself in a camp is to divide.
However, he lives on donations!
His targeted attacks on Zineb El Rhazoui are also not believed to be due to chance.
"Thanks to that, he attracts the sympathy of the" brotherists ", Salafists or more broadly of the Muslim community, for whom Zineb is a traitor, continues a specialist in Islamism in France.
It is the ideal enemy.