An Islamic holiday camp in the Vosges mountains in eastern France has been shut down due to concerns children were “being subjected to a punishing religious routine,” officials said.
The camp, organised by a Turkish group from the city of Nancy, was ordered to close because of "overly present cultural practices," according to an administrative official in the town of Epinal.
"We had information allowing us to believe that children were being physically threatened," said local youth and sports official Frederic Roussel.
The 96 children taking part have been sent home to their families, in line with a July 13 ruling by the local prefecture, confirmed on appeal on July 18. The Nancy Turkish Cultural Centre was denied authorisation to hold a second camp next month.
A probe was opened early this month after a child called the local police to complain of "physical constraints" at the camp, such as being forced to wake up at night to pray.
The subsequent inquiry found the camp environment "excessively rigorous, verging on disciplinarian", focused on the "intensive and compulsory practice of Turkish religion and culture" and lacking in other educational or leisure activities, according to court documents.