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France deports 'Islamist extremist' to Morocco

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France deports 'Islamist extremist' to Morocco
File photo of police arresting Forsane Alizza Islamic radical group's leader Mohamed Achamlane in March 30, 2012. Photo Jean Sebastian Evrard/AFP

France said on Thursday it had expelled a Moroccan citizen linked with an Islamist extremist group from French territory. The move comes days after Interior Minister Manuel Valls vowed to deport several radical Islamist preachers.

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The interior ministry said in a statement that Ali Benhamou had been expelled to Morocco under an expulsion order following "serious charges" against him.

It linked him with a group known as Forsane Alizza, which was banned in France last year and saw 13 of its members arrested and charged under anti-terrorism laws.

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

"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.

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

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