Extremist imams may lose nationality: Sarkozy

19th July 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 19 (AFP) - - France's tough-talking Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy promised "zero tolerance" Tuesday for Muslim leaders who encourage attacks such as the bombings in London on July 7 and said he would strip them of their French nationality.

PARIS, July 19 (AFP) - - France's tough-talking Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy promised "zero tolerance" Tuesday for Muslim leaders who encourage attacks such as the bombings in London on July 7 and said he would strip them of their French nationality.

"We have to be much stricter against those who indoctrinate young suicide bombers," he told Liberation newspaper.

Intelligence officials told AFP that "around 10" imams have been identified and are being monitored in Paris, Lyon and Marseille. "Most are from north Africa, but there are also some Turks," an official said.

"It is going to be zero tolerance," said Sarkozy, 50, who is also head of the ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party and a likely candidate in presidential elections in 2007.

"I am going to launch proceedings to deprive French imams who preach violence and fundamentalism of their nationality; systematically expel those who do not respect our values and are not French; and step up monitoring of places of worship where extremist activities have taken root," he said.

There are some 1,500 Muslim places of worship in France of which under 40 are under the influence of radicals, the intelligence official said. "Their preaching extends from classic fundamentalism to more violent ideas," he said.

Fewer than 20 percent of the country's 1,100 imams are French, he said.

The imams regarded as potentially dangerous were identified by the content of their sermons but also by their association with known extremists. Some have nurtured contacts with Islamists recently released from prison, the official said.

"The radicals know that we are listening to their sermons and are careful. The real action takes place in the corridors," he said.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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