Imams Become Persona Non Grata in Spain

Many thanks to Gary Fouse for translating this article from El Independiente:

Three imams expelled from Spain and almost 30 banned from jails in past year

August 13, 2023

Spanish authorities expelled three imams from Spain who were considered a danger to national security in 2022, a year that also saw some 30 bans of Islamist preachers who wanted to perform religious assistance in jails, due to their radical profile.

This is reported in the “Report of Terrorism in Spain 2022”, published in the July edition of the Notebooks of the Memorial Center for Victims of Terrorism, the institution directed by Florencio Dominguez and whose head of Research and Documentation is Gaizka Fernandez Soldevilla.

According to the report, consulted by Europa Press [Spanish news agency], in 2022 “officials of penitentiaries banned almost 30 imams from entry into jails to perform religious assistance who had previously been identified as extremists by security services.”

Using figures from the beginning of 2023, there are 173 prisoners included in the control groups of radical Islam: 80 included in the file FIES-A — counting both pre-trial and sentenced; 39 in FIES-B for common crimes but later involved in radical activities; and another 54 inmates in FIES-C, for leading incidents derived from a radical interpretation of the Islamic religion or for early signs of radicalization.

Spread of Salafism

The report of the Memorial Center for Victims of Terrorism points out that Spain, like other European nations, resorts to the deportation of religious leaders who preach extremist interpretations of Islam, a task that extends to the prison environment, a habitual focal point of radicalization.

The first of the expelled imams was from the mosque in the town of Talayuela in Caceres, Yahya Benouda, 51. Investigated since 2006, he was reported by the General Commissariat of Police Investigation as the “maximum exponent” in the spread of Salafism in the Muslim community in the region of this municipality of some 7,000 inhabitants, according to the report ratified by the National Court.

In the report prefaced by Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska, it is emphasized that the security services of Spain affirm that the expelled preacher had an “affinity” with the radical Moroccan movement, “Justice and Charity”, as well as with the Muslim Brotherhood.

“He exhorts men in their homes to enforce that women do not leave the home alone, that they dress in Islamic garb, with face or hair covering, including little girls, and that they do not work outside of the home,” notes the file on Benouda.

This preacher spread a “rigorous and radical interpretation of Islam that is not conducive to the integration into Western society and favors segregation of and discrimination against women,” given that he “advocates the application of sharia above the Spanish legal system.”

Islamic leaders in Catalunya

Among the media cases, the Memorial Center further cites that of Mohamed Said Badaoui and Amarouch Azbi, extremist Islamist leaders from Reus (Tarragona) and Vilanova i la Geltru (Barcelona), expelled from Spain with the approval of the courts. The decision was met with protest by ERC (Republican Left of Catalunya), CUP (Popular Union Candidacy-far left political party), Junts y Unidas Podemos— En Comu Podem (political coalition), who complained that they were victims of “political repression by way of the Alien Law.”

The report mentions that Catalunya continues to be the autonomous community in which most jihadist arrests take place, “ which reveals that it is the territory where there is the most important focus of radicalization.”

In its review, which includes expulsions carried out by other European countries, the Memorial Center recalls the conviction last year of a Koranic professor in Valencia who had worked as an imam in a mosque spreading messages of hate against Jews, Shi’ites, Christians, and the LGBTQ community.

Sahel, jihadist propaganda, and returnees

The Memorial Center for Victims of Terrorism notes as a “novelty” that the Canary Islands appear among jihadist propaganda circulating the past year on channels related to terrorist groups of the Islamic State (DAESH) and al Qaeda, adding to the usual references to Al Andalus and the “occupied cities” of Ceuta and Melilla, or allusions to police agencies such as the Civil Guard and the Mossos d’Esquadra [Catalunyan police].

It specifically cited that in March, the map of the archipelago was broadcast on a channel accompanied by a text in which it alluded to these “tourist islands,” and added: “We are fighting in the Sahel, and our eyes are fixed on the islands of Al Andalus and its land.”

Minister Grande-Marlaska, in the preface of the report, notes the Sahel as “the major focus of terrorism and threat to Spain.” “The investigative services, intelligence analysts, and specialists in the fight against terrorism in our country are fully oriented to the security of this region of the Sahel,” he points out after again stressing that the threat has been atomized by lone actors who can act on the propaganda spread on the web.

The returnees are another element of analysis; according to what is compiled by the Intelligence Center Against Terrorism and Organized Crime (CITCO), which counts 263 persons displaced to zones of conflict up to last year.

There is evidence of the death of 102 combatants (almost 39%) and the return of 63. In 2022, in fact, for the third consecutive year, an arrest was made for this reason, that of a Moroccan citizen arrested in Mataro (Barcelona), who returned from Syria after joining the Al Nusra Front.

The Memorial Center points out that CITCO does not rule out that there are deaths not registered since there is no official evidence and stresses that 64% of these foreign terrorist combatants (CTE) or “foreign terrorist fighters”(FTF) were of Moroccan nationality, and 15% had Spanish nationality.

Of the combatants, 31 are women who left Spain at some point for Syria, “normally accompanied by their partners” — the report recalls the repatriation this year of Yolanda Martinez and Luna Fernandez, together with 13 minors, from Syrian Kurdistan. Of this number, 15 were still in Syrian territory last year, stressing that for the police services, they represent a “potential threat that cannot be ignored.”

3 thoughts on “Imams Become Persona Non Grata in Spain

  1. Oh dear, that old canard “extremist interpretations of Islam”.
    Can somebody ask El Independiente:
    What is the NON-extremist “interpretation” of:
    “Kill them wherever you find them” (Koran 2:191, 9:5, part of Islamic law” ?

  2. Pre WW3. Just like 1930’s. The more things change the more they remain the same. The time has come the right wings of Europe said. Islam out!

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