France: Burqa Fines, and a Radical Imam Expelled

Cultural Enrichment News

Our Flemish correspondent VH has translated a pair of articles, one from the Dutch and the other from the French, about the latest cultural enrichment news from France.

First, from Elsevier:

France expels imam, wants to impose fines for burqa-wearing

by Maartje Willems

The radical imam Ali Ibrahim al-Sudani had called on mosque visitors in the suburbs of Paris to fight against the West. The man has been returned to his home country, Egypt, by the government of French President Nicolas Sarkozy. This is what the French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said this Thursday.

Since 2001 France has expelled 21 imams, the Ministry of Interior in Paris reports. Including these imams, a total of 129 radical Muslims have been expelled, according to the Ministry of the Interior.

Moreover, the country also plans impose fines of €750 [± US $1100] on Muslim woman for wearing face-covering garments such as the burqa. This is a proposal for a bill that has been presented in Parliament by the leader of the majority.

Also, Muslims who force their women to wear a burqa or niqab would receive a heavier penalty. In the proposal, wearing clothing that covers the face is only allowed for cultural events, such as Carnival.

Paris has in recent years been confronted with a number of major riots in the “banlieues,” the suburbs of Paris. Especially in the autumn of 2005, when there were major riots. Young people, mainly of North African descent, clashed for a number of days with police. Hundreds of cars were burned [and many people injured].

The French government is trying to avoid new clashes, both by expelling suspected troublemakers from the country as well as by offering the youths prospects for the future.

The following article from Le Monde also concerns the expulsion of the radical imam. Note the spelling variant, which is common for those pesky Arab names:
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A fundamentalist imam has been immediately deported to Egypt

Ali Ibrahim al-Soudany, a “radical Islamist cleric, author of sermons inciting violence”, was expelled with urgency to Egypt on Thursday, January 7, the interior minister, Brice Hortefeux said in a statement.

Mr. Hortefeux: “Special Services had identified this dangerous individual who was engaged for a number of months in mosques in Seine-Saint-Denis, and gave sermons calling for the fight against the West, deprecating the values of our society, and inciting to violence.” The minister said he has asked his staff to be “more vigilant”, and warns he will not hesitate when an expulsion is necessary.

If the Republic “respects religious freedom, […] preachers of hate, who have nothing to do with religious freedom, have no place on our territory,” the interior minister said. “Since 2001, one hundred twenty-nine Islamic radicals — including twenty-nine imams or preachers — have been expelled from the country,” the statement said.

Ali Ibrahim al-Soudany, born in Egypt in 1973, officiated in several mosques in eastern Paris, mostly in Pantin or Montreuil (Seine-Saint-Denis), but also in some other districts of the capital, particularly in the 18th [where the Muslim prayers on the sidewalks take place] and 19th districts. His sermons were “a glorification of jihad”, according to sources familiar with the matter. He has been under special surveillance since 2008.

The ministerial “absolute emergent” deportation order was immediately executed, and the cleric left French territory on board a plane bound for Cairo, which took off late Thursday afternoon. According to an Islamic association that does not want to provide its name, Ibrahim Ali el-Soudany had been in France illegally.

For a complete listing of previous enrichment news, see The Cultural Enrichment Archives.