French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin has announced the expulsion of an imam, Hassan Iquioussen, from France because of his “calls for hatred and violence against the Jewish community.”
In a tweet this week, Darmanin argued that the expulsion was justified by the fact that “this preacher has for years practised hate speech against the values of France contrary to our principles of secularism and equality between women and men.”
Iquioussen, 57, from Lourches near Valenciennes, has Moroccan heritage but was born in France and has lived there all his life. He does not possess French nationality but rather has a long-term residence permit.
The French authorities accuse him of being an “Islamic militant” linked to the Muslim Brotherhood who tramples on the values of the French Republic. They say he holds antisemitic views, incites hate and violence against Jews, denies the Holocaust, makes homophobic statements against homosexuals, rejects the equality of men and women and the principle of secularism.
Responding to the expulsion order, Hassan Iquioussen said: “It was with huge surprise that I received an expulsion order on April 3, 2022. You all know my engagement with the French Muslim community since 40 years. I’ve been committed to the diffusion of an Islam full of love and tolerance. I’ve been committed to teach French Muslims that they can live fully their faith within the framework of the laws of the Republic.
“They accuse me of discriminatory speeches, even violent ones. I strongly contest this. And my speeches and work are there to prove it. I was born in the north and wish to continue to live peacefully here with my children and grandchildren. I place my confidence in justice to cancel this expulsion order.”
His lawyers said the remarks he is accused of date back to 2000 and he wasn’t prosecuted for them. He poses no threat to public order, they said.
“This political opportunism is happening in a climate where a religious minority is being targeted. After Muslim cultural associations were targeted, the minister has now decided after the elections to target imams, disregarding liberty of expression and the rights to a private and family life.
“We are worried that in the event that he is returned to Morocco his political positions will put his life in danger.”
Hassan Iquioussen is well known to the Muslim community in France and is very active on social media networks.
His impending expulsion comes after France adopted a “separatism law” intended to counter terrorism after several horrific attacks in France.
The law, however, has been criticised by human rights groups for making its 6 million Muslim citizens a scapegoat for growing economic and political tensions within the nation.