More than one month ago (the 26thof November), the IESH (the European Institute of Human Sciences) [Institut Européen des Sciences Humaines] has been forced to close its doors for preventive security measures under the order of the prefecture. The institute, located in Saint-Denis near from Paris, which was created in 2001, is an emblematic centre in France and the first Islamic higher education establishment. In addition to conferences and training sessions, the IESH provides theological classes and Arabic lessons and welcomes every year more than 1500 students and visitors.
The IESH closure has not been widely covered by “mainstream” press, but has been largely discussed by most of the “Muslim” media. The reasons given by the authority to justify the closure mentioned the risk of fire and the non-compliance of the building to security norms, which might lead to panic-driven movements in case of emergency. Consequently, the prefecture has closed the centre until the refurbishment of existing edifices. Some managers of the centre complained about the expeditiousness of the decision, as most of the time an advanced notice is given with a period of adjustment. As such, voices condemned a verdict they consider as arbitrary and unfair. In their views, this decision constituted an indirect way to throw some sand into their wheels and might be understood in a broader struggle of “French state” towards Islam. They do consider that such reasons only represented pretexts to tackle Muslim associations and denounced the so-called “society of vigilance” (lien)of President Macron.
Subsequently, the IESH has to make major restoration to its building in order to open again to the public. As the Institute does not have the funds necessary, it has launched a donations appeal, and already has collected 60% of the total amount (an estimation of 150 000 euros has been advanced), mainly from individual donors. At this time, and despite the strong mobilization among Muslim donors, no date for the reopening of the centre has been set.