French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has announced the deportation of 40 foreign imams since 2012 for “preaching hatred”, a quarter since the terror attacks in Paris in January this year. Reinforcing the government’s commitment to clamping down on mosques and preachers inciting hatred, he revealed that several mosques are under investigation and any “foreign preacher of hate will be deported.”
Although the recent beheading of a French factory boss by a Muslim employee now appears to have had some personal motivations, the self-confessed murderer, Yassin Salhi, was previously known to security services for links to radical Islamists. AFP reports Cazeneuve noted “there is a symbolism taken from the most atrocious, abject images of terrorism.”
Cazeneuve restated the government’s commitment to clamping down on radical preachers in order to turn the tide of radicalisation that has seen hundreds of French citizens leave to fight alongside Islamic State and other jihadi groups in Iraq and Syria.
“We have deported 40 preachers of hatred since 2012. Since the beginning of the year, we have examined 22 cases, and around 10 imams and preachers of hatred have been expelled” Cazeneuve said, He added that mosques “will be shut down” if they are found to be inciting hatred.
The British Home Secretary, Theresa May, has also been involved in deporting foreign “preachers of hate.” In a speech to the recent Met Police counter-terrorism conference she said:
“We are also working to deal with the propagandists. On coming to power in 2010 we significantly revised the ‘Prevent’ pillar of the counter-terrorism strategy so that it tackles the ideology behind the threat, and tackles all forms of terrorism, not just Islamist-related terrorism.
“We have now trained 300,000 frontline workers to help identify and prevent extremism, and I have excluded nearly 100 preachers of hate, more than any of my predecessors.”
On Sunday the French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, noted 1,800 people in France were “linked” in some way to the Islamist cause. He told iTele that the world was engaged in a “war against terrorism”, adding:
“We cannot lose this war because it’s fundamentally a war of civilisation. It’s our society, our civilisation that we are defending.”