France expels Tunisian imam accused of hate speech against women, Jews

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French authorities on Thursday expelled a Tunisian imam accused of preaching hatred against women and Jews, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin announced.

Mahjoub Mahjoubi, imam in the small southern French town of Bagnols-sur-Ceze, was sent back to Tunisia “less than 12 hours after his arrest,” Darmanin said in a post on X, the former Twitter.

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He added that it was a “demonstration” that a recently voted immigration law “makes France stronger.”

The law toughening migration conditions was seen as part of the government’s response to the rise of the far-right in French opinion polls. It has been strongly opposed by left wing parties.

“Firmness is the rule,” said Darmanin, who slammed what he called a “radical imam who made unacceptable comments.”

The official order for Mahjoubi’s expulsion, seen by AFP, said that in sermons in February he had given a “retrograde, intolerant and violent” image of Islam that would encourage behavior against French values, discrimination against women, “tensions with the Jewish community” and “Jihadist radicalization.”

The imam also referred to “the Jewish people as the enemy,” according to the order, which said Mahjoubi called for “the destruction of Western society.”

The imam’s lawyer, Samir Hamroun, said he would appeal the expulsion.

Last year, France expelled a Moroccan imam and an Algerian who had been an official at a mosque that was closed in 2018.

President Emmanuel Macron said in 2020 that he wanted to end the stay in France of about 300 imams sent by other countries. None have been accepted from abroad since January this year.

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