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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 April, 2004, 18:56 GMT 19:56 UK
France expels 'pro-assault' imam
The entrance to the Muslim association building where Imam Abdelkader Bouziane is prayer leader.
Bouziane preached at this centre near Lyon
France's interior ministry has ordered the expulsion of a Muslim cleric who advocated the beating of women.

Algerian-born Abdelkader Bouziane, an imam in eastern Lyon, told a magazine that the Koran authorised the beating and stoning of adulterous wives.

Mr Bouziane also expressed hopes that "the entire world becomes Muslim".

The remarks caused an immediate outcry in France, which hosts Europe's largest Muslim community - about five million people, mainly of north African origin.

Muslim leaders in France also condemned the imam's remarks, saying Islam did not condone domestic violence.

The government will not tolerate public comments... which attack human dignity and in particular the dignity of women
Interior ministry statement
However, the leader of France's National Council of Muslims warned the French media not to seek to portray all Muslims in the West as fundamentalists, or to stir up anti-Islamic sentiment by seeking out extremist opinion.

Abdelkader Bouziane has become the second imam this month to face deportation from France.

A Muslim preacher in Brest was deported to Algeria last week after he expressed support for the Madrid bombings, and was accused by the interior ministry of supporting Islamic terrorists.

Swift response

Mr Bouziane was prayer leader in Venissieux, near Lyon, and has lived in France for the last 25 years.

He was taken into custody on Tuesday, the French interior ministry said.

In a statement, the ministry said remarks against human rights, particularly women's rights, could not be tolerated.

The imam told the April issue of Lyon Mag he favoured wife-beating "under certain conditions, especially if the woman cheats on her husband".

He then went on national television to clarify his comments.

He said he had not advocated hitting women on the face, but insisted that the Koran did authorise husbands to beat their wives if they had been unfaithful.

He was also quoted as saying he favoured an Islamic republic in France.

"But not just for France. I want the whole world to become Muslim."

An expulsion order had already been issued over his views before the magazine article appeared, and the interview confirmed that the decision was correct, the French interior ministry said.

France's Islamic heartland
18 Apr 03  |  Europe

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