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Last Updated: Monday, 17 May, 2004, 15:27 GMT 16:27 UK
Expelled imam 'gets French visa'
Abdelkader Bouziane being expelled from France
Abdelkader Bouziane is said to have 16 children in France
An Algerian imam deported from France for defending wife-beating says he has a visa to return.

It follows a French court ruling that last month's deportation order for Abdelkader Bouziane was unlawful.

Mr Bouziane, 52, who was the imam of a mosque in Lyons, said he was looking forward to seeing his family again.

It is still unclear when Mr Bouziane will return to France, but he told French television on Monday it would be "in a few hours".

The cleric was deported to Algeria on 21 April for saying that the Koran authorised the stoning and beating of adulterous women.

The remarks caused an outcry in France, with many Muslim leaders condemning them as un-Islamic.

But two tribunals have ruled the deportation illegal and said Mr Bouziane should be allowed to return to France.

Charges

The new Interior Minister, Dominique de Villepin, had argued that the deportation was legal on the grounds that the imam used his mosque to advocate violence.

But on Monday, his lawyer Mahmoud Hebia told the Associated Press: "I am in the process of organising his return to Lyon."

He refused to say when the imam would return "in order to protect him".

Mr Bouziane had lived in France for 25 years on a renewable residency permit and reportedly has 16 children there.

But he may not get a friendly welcome from the French authorities.

A state prosecutor has opened a case against him on charges of excusing a crime and encouraging harm to others.

And French President Jacques Chirac said that if the law needed to be changed to prevent a repetition of the Bouziane saga, then modifications would be made.


SEE ALSO:
French eject 'pro-beating' imam
21 Apr 04  |  Europe
France's Islamic heartland
18 Apr 03  |  Europe


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