'Extremist' Paris mosque director arrested

3rd May 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 2 (AFP) - The Turkish director of a Paris mosque who was detained pending his likely expulsion was accused Sunday by France's interior ministry of helping to run a radical Islamic group that advocates terrorism.

PARIS, May 2 (AFP) - The Turkish director of a Paris mosque who was detained pending his likely expulsion was accused Sunday by France's interior ministry of helping to run a radical Islamic group that advocates terrorism.

Midhat Guler, who was detained late Saturday, "is the leader in France of an extremist Turkish Islamic movement that advocates resorting to the use of violence and terrorism," the ministry said in a statement.

Guler has asked France for political asylum since being taken into custody, the ministry said, adding that while his request was under review, French officials planned to ask that he remain in administrative detention.

Guler, who according to his son Abdurraham is a 45-year-old Turkish national who has lived in France for 28 years, runs a mosque in eastern Paris but does not preach there.

His arrest came on the same day that French Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin pledged to pursue the deportation of radical Muslim clerics, while keeping in close touch with leaders of the country's large Muslim community.

French officials said Guler was the leader of the "Islamic Association in France," but his son said neither he nor his father belonged to "any Turkish extremist organization, or any organization for that matter."

"We are Muslims and nothing more than that," Abdurraham Guler told AFP.The younger Guler said the mosque was "without a specific imam", adding that sometimes he himself led prayers.

Haydar Demiryuek, secretary general of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), said the mosque was run by the "ultra-fundamentalist" Kaplanci movement, which "calls for the creation of an Islamic state in Turkey".

Kaplanci is banned in Germany, he said, adding that of France's 400,000 Turkish residents, no more than 500 support the movement.

Last month, the French government experienced an embarrassing setback when a court ruled illegal the deportation to his native Algeria of a radical imam from the southeastern city of Lyon after he justified wife-beating.

The imam, 52-year-old Abdelkader Bouziane, has since applied for a visa to return to France.


© AFP

                                               Subject: French news

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