Algerian imam detained in Marseille

7th May 2004, Comments 0 comments

MARSEILLE, France, May 6 (AFP) - A 28-year-old Algerian imam belonging to a hardline movement has been detained in the southern French port of Marseille, amid a government crackdown on radical Muslim clerics, police said Thursday.

MARSEILLE, France, May 6 (AFP) - A 28-year-old Algerian imam belonging to a hardline movement has been detained in the southern French port of Marseille, amid a government crackdown on radical Muslim clerics, police said Thursday.

Faycal Ayachi, known to police for preaching a brand of Islam that is "far from being moderate" in several Marseille mosques, was deported just last year, but pledged at the time to come back to France.

Police said Ayachi was placed in a detention centre along with 10 others after he failed to produce valid residency papers.

Ayachi belongs to the Salafist movement, which preaches a strict interpretation of the Koran, or the Muslim holy book.

His arrest came amid the centre-right government's campaign to deport radical imams, which has sparked concern among the five million Muslims in France, who fear that Paris is leading a witch hunt against their clerics.

"A hard line against those who advocate violence is the best guarantee of a peaceful practice of the Muslim religion," Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin told regional Muslim leaders last week.

"In the case of foreigners that could mean the expulsion of individuals we believe to be in close contact with terrorist movements," he said.

Last month, the French government suffered an embarrassing setback when a court ruled illegal the deportation of imam Abdelkader Bouziane to his native Algeria.

The interior ministry ordered his expulsion after the 52-year-old, from the southeastern city of Lyon, was quoted justifying wife-beating.Bouziane has since applied for a visa to return to France, and his lawyer Mahmoud Hebia has said he could come back by week's end.

French authorities are mulling whether to expel Midhat Guler, a Turkish director of a Paris mosque accused of leading an extremist Islamic movement.

He has been placed under house arrest pending review of the expulsion order.

The interior ministry has accused Guler of being "the leader in France of an extremist Turkish Islamic movement that advocates resorting to the use of violence and terrorism," a charge the 45-year-old Turkish national denies.

© AFP

Subject: French news

 

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