French court suspends prominent imam’s deportation

Court says expulsion disproportionate attack; interior minister to appeal against decision.

French court suspends prominent imam’s deportation

A French court on Friday suspended the expulsion of an imam accused by the Interior Ministry of disseminating anti-Semitic and anti-gender equality messages.

In its decision, the administrative court of Paris said the expulsion of Imam Hassan Iquioussen, a Moroccan national born in France, would constitute a “disproportionate attack” on his “private and family life,” his lawyer Lucie Simon shared on Twitter.

The 57-year-old imam was born in France and lives there with his family.

"The mere reason based on the existence of acts of explicit and deliberate incitement to discrimination against women (cannot) justify the expulsion measure without seriously and manifestly disproportionate interference with his right to carry out a normal private and family life,” the court said, according to a report by BFMTV news.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin who had ordered Iquioussen’s deportation to Morocco announced on Twitter that he would appeal against the court’s decision. He said he is “determined to fight against those who hold and disseminate anti-Semitic remarks that are contrary to equality between women and men.”

Last week, the ministry announced to remove Iquioussen from the mainland territory, and cancel his residence permit, for making anti-Semitic and "anti-women" remarks during sermons or conferences, which Iquioussen says are "baseless accusations."

Last week, the Council of Mosques of the Rhone (CMR) and Theological Council of Imams of the Rhone (CTIR) issued a joint statement and criticized the interior minister's move.

"We have always known him to be faithful to his commitment against hatred, racism, anti-Semitism, extremism, obscurantism, terrorism and an advocate of gender equality. Throughout his ministry, he has tirelessly promoted dialogue, respect, peace and peaceful co-existence," Kamel Kabtane said for the CMR and Mohamed Minta and Azzedine Gaci for the CTIR.

Hüseyin Demir