The French Government has vowed to change the law in order to be able to expel a radical imam with a history of inflammatory comments about Jews.
Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said that Hassan Iquioussen is an enemy of France who had “no place” in the country.
Mr Iquioussen, 59, is a Moroccan citizen who has lived in France all his life and has become a symbol of President Emmanuel Macron’s battle against Islamism, whom the President accuses of rejecting French laws and values. He did not take up French citizenship at a younger age and his attempts to do so since then have failed.
Morocco has reportedly delivered a laissez-passer to authorise his travel, which cleared the way for Mr Iquioussen’s expulsion “by force”, but the imam won an injunction halting his deportation at the Paris Administrative Court, which ruled that the expulsion was a “disproportionate infringement…of [Iquioussen’s] right to a private and family life.” Mr Iquioussen has five children and numerous grandchildren in France.
During last week’s court hearing, prosecutors highlighted statements allegedly made by Mr Iquioussen in 2003 and 2004 in which he described Jews as “miserly usurers” and claimed that Zionists had “connived with Hitler…to push Jews to leave Germany”. He also reportedly said: “The Zionists said…there has to be someone in Europe who does bad things to Jews so that they…will leave [for Israel].” They also noted a conference in 2012 at which Mr Iquioussen allegedly described terrorist attacks in the West as “pseudo-attacks whose objective is to frighten non-Muslims so that they are afraid of Islam and of Muslims,” and claimed that he has also publicly denied the 1915 Armenian genocide and pointed to allegedly misogynistic comments.
In a post on Facebook, Mr Iquioussen “strongly contested” the allegations that he had used “discriminatory or violent language.” His supporters argue that the comments cited in the case were dated and taken out of context, and pointed to other statements by the imam, such as: “We have never had, and have, nothing against Jews because Islam is a religion based on justice.”
Mr Darmanin has announced that the Government will appeal against the injunction at the State Council, France’s highest administrative court, and warned that if the appeal fails, he would change the law to allow for the deportation.
Confirming that intelligence agencies put Mr Iquioussen on a watchlist of allegedly dangerous radicals eighteen months ago, Mr Darmanin said: “This imam…uses antisemitic language. He denies equality between men and women. He denies genocides. He calls for terrorist attacks in France to be considered as conspiracies.” He added: “The enemies of the Republic have no place in the Republic.”
According to a report published by the French Jewish Community Security Service, antisemitic incidents in France have skyrocketed.
Campaign Against Antisemitism reports on news and incidents relating to antisemitism in France and throughout Europe.