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ISLAMIST

France deports ‘Islamist extremist’ to Morocco

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.

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

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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VALLS

Former PM Valls quits Socialists to join Macron’s army of MPs in parliament

Former French PM Manuel Valls announced on Tuesday that he was quitting the Socialist Party and instead would sit among the MPs of President Emmanuel Macron's Republique en Marche party in the French parliament.

Former PM Valls quits Socialists to join Macron's army of MPs in parliament
Photo: AFP

Valls, who was PM under former President François Hollande told French radio on Tuesday morning that he was walking away from the Socialist party.

“Part of my political life is coming to an end. I am leaving the Socialist Party, or the Socialist Party is leaving me,” the 54-year-old told RTL radio.

Valls, who was prime minister under Socialist president Francois Hollande from 2014 to 2016, was rejected by Socialist voters in the party's primary to choose a candidate for this year's presidential election.

The party chose hard-left candidate Benoit Hamon instead and he failed to reach the run-off of the presidential election in May as France's two main parties fell at the first hurdle for the first time since 1958.

Earlier this month Valls was re-elected as an MP in the department of Essonne by a tiny majority.

Shortly after his announcement the majority Republique en Marche (REM) party announced that MPs had voted to allow Valls to sit among their ranks in the new parliament, which sits for the first time on Tuesday.

Macron's party won a huge majority in June's parliamentary elections, while the Socialist party only picked up 30 seats. 

However Valls will not officially be joining the REM party, but he will benefit from certain logistical advantages of being part of the majority such as having access to speaking time in parliament.

The former PM had suffered humiliation last month when he announced he wanted to join Macron's party, only to be told to join the back of the queue like everyone else.

At the time the secretary general of Macron's La République en Marche (Republic on the Move), Richard Ferrand said Valls “did not meet the criteria” of Macron's desire to renew French politics.

In the end a deal was reached and REM decided not to put up a candidate to stand against Valls in his constituency.

The pugnacious, Spanish-born Valls was Macron's boss when the now-president was economy minister and a fierce rivalry developed between them.

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