Posted on October 8, 2004

Muslim Cleric Deported Again From France

AP, Newsday (New York City), Oct. 5

LYON, France — France on Tuesday expelled an Algerian-born Islamic prayer leader who condoned wife beating, part of a French campaign to punish Muslim clerics preaching violence.

Abdelkader Bouziane boarded an Algeria-bound flight from the southeastern city of Lyon, Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin told parliament.

“I salute this decision that today allows us to pursue, to expulse foreign citizens who insult or call for violence against women,” he said.

Bouziane, who was an imam or prayer leader in the Lyon suburb of Venissieux, was first deported to his native Algeria in April on orders from the Interior Ministry. But the imam returned to France a month later after an administrative court suspended the ruling.

France’s highest administrative body, the Council of State, on Monday overturned that suspension, clearing the way for Bouziane to be deported again. He was taken into custody on Tuesday morning near one of his homes in Lyon before his expulsion.

In the April edition of the magazine Lyon Mag, Bouziane said he favors wife-beating “under certain conditions, notably if the woman cheats on her husband.” He claimed the Quran authorizes such punishment, an interpretation rejected by moderate Muslims.

The Interior Ministry said he was already on an expulsion list since Feb. 26 for disturbing public order, but the effort to deport him was sped up after the magazine article.

In its effort to fight the spread of Muslim fundamentalism, France has been cracking down on imams who preach violence or values that run counter to the mainstream.

In May, the Turkish director of a Paris mosque, Midhat Guler, was deported based on what the Interior Ministry said was a threat to public order.

An imam from the western city of Brest was also expelled in April after the Interior Ministry said he gave a sermon urging jihad, or holy war, and expressing support for the March 11 railway bombings in Madrid, Spain, that killed 191 people.

President Jacques Chirac has said he is willing to modify immigration law to ensure France can deport people for statements like those by Bouziane.