Several Islamic charities have been ordered to close in Mauritania
NOUAKCHOTT - The Mauritanian government has ordered the closure of several Islamic charities for "overstepping their mandate", a security official said on Friday, including an organisation with links to the Muslim Brotherhood.
No official explanation has been given for the crackdown but ministers made the decision after holding a cabinet meeting on Thursday to discuss security issues and "the consequences of past excesses on the stability of the country", the official told AFP.
Authorities sealed off premises across the country belonging to the Association for the Future of Preaching, Culture and Education (AFPCE), a charity run by Mohamed El-Hacen Ould Dedaw, who is widely referred to as "the spiritual father of the Muslim Brotherhood in Mauritania".
Ould Dedaw was jailed under the regime of then president Maaouya Ould Taya after being arrested in the aftermath of a failed coup attempt in 2003 by the "Knights of Change", a rebel movement formed by army officers accused of having ties with Islamists.
The AFPCE released a statement denouncing its closure as "an action targeting a forum for preaching and culture that has taught generations about morals and the word of God".
"The association is concerned only with its fields of activity as visitors and followers could testify. Any other charges remain unsubstantiated," it added.
The government shut down several other charities working in health and education, including "Education for the Girls of Nouakchott", the source added.
The action follows demonstrations across the country on Monday over the alleged desecration of copies of the Koran at a mosque in Nouakchott.
Sidi Mohamed Ould Maham accused Mauritanian political organisations that he did not name of being apologists for "practices unknown in our society" following the protests.
Tewassoul, the main opposition party, which is associated with the Muslim Brotherhood but professes to hold more moderate beliefs than the country's jihadist fringe, said on Thursday it had been banned from holding a meeting in Nouakchott "for security reasons".