France to deport radical Muslim clerics

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls said on Tuesday that Paris was set to deport a string of radical imams as part of a fight against "global jihadism".

France to deport radical Muslim clerics
French Interior Minister Manuel Valls, in Paris on January 28th. Photo: Bernard Langlois/AFP

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"Several radical foreign preachers will be expelled in the coming days," Valls told a Brussels conference called to tackle extremism in Europe, without identifying any of the individuals concerned.

"I don't confuse this radical Islam with the Islam of France but there is a religious environment, there are Salafist groupings, who are involved in a political process, whose aim is to monopolize cultural associations and schools," he added.

"We will expel all these imams, all these foreign preachers who denigrate women, who hold views that run counter to our values and who say there is a need to combat France.

"We have to be extremely firm and that I will be," he said.

France is on red alert against a terror attack after its military intervention in Mali. Security has been increased at airports and train stations around the country.

This is not the first time France has tried to crack down on radical clerics. In March last year former President Nicolas Sarkozy banned four Muslim preachers from entering France to attend an Islamic conference, saying their "calls for hatred and violence" were a threat to public order.

The banning order came in the wake of al-Qaeda inspired Mohammed Merah's deadly shooting spree in Toulouse and Montauban.

Merah 'no lone wolf'

In the same speech this week Valls, who is dubbed the 'Sarkozy of the Left' for his often hardline stance on issues, insisted that Merah, a self proclaimed Islamist extremist, did not act alone when he carried out a deadly shooting spree in the south west cities last year.

"His act was carefully planned and made with the help of several contacts. The well known theory of the lone wolf is not correct," the minister added.

Valls said Merah was "alone but not isolated".

"There was an environment around him, whether it was his family, the neighbourhood, or prison, and he had contacts in France or abroad that  helped forge his path towards being a killer," Valls added.

On Wednesday two associates of Merah were arrested by French police. Click here to read the full story.

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