PARIS, April 20 (Reuters) – France has expelled an imam of Islam’s strict Salafi branch for giving radical sermons seen as a threat, sending him to Algeria a day after the European Court of Human Rights gave a green light for the move, a source close to the case said on Friday.
French media said the imam, who has not been identified by authorities, was accused of making radical lectures against women, Jews and Shi’ite Muslims, allegations he denied. He was based at a mosque in the southern French city of Marseille.
The European Court of Human Rights had initially asked France to suspend the expulsion, after the imam’s lawyer had raised risks of torture, before saying on Thursday that additional information provided by French authorities had convinced it not to block the expulsion.
France, which has been targeted over the past three years by attacks claimed by Islamic State, announced in February steps including prison isolation zones and more stringent licensing rules for faith-based schools to combat what it calls a slow-burning threat from Islamist radicalisation.
The country has Europe’s largest Jewish and Muslim communities. The latter is estimated to number upwards of five million.
An Elabe poll last month showed 80 percent backed the expulsion of radicalised foreigners, while more than half of its respondents said Macron was not doing enough to counter terrorism.
(Reporting by Jean-Francois Rosnoblet and Gilbert Reilhac,
Writing by Ingrid Melander, Editing by William Maclean)