French-expelled Tunisian imam says he would appeal the ruling

An imam from Tunisia who was banished from France for allegedly using hate speech said on Friday that he will file a lawsuit to try to reverse the ruling.

French village of Bagnols-sur-Ceze native Mahjoub Mahjoubi criticized his dismissal as “arbitrary.” After being detained, the 52-year-old was sent to Tunisia on Thursday, where he boarded a flight from Paris and arrived just before midnight.

Mahjoubi, who is married and has five children, has lived in France since the 1980s. Gerald Darmanin, the interior minister of France, revoked his residence card on Sunday, despite the fact that all of his children are French nationals. In sermons delivered in February, Mahjoubi presented a “retrograde, intolerant and violent” picture of Islam, which would promote behavior against French values, discrimination against women, “tensions with the Jewish community,” and “jihadist radicalization,” according to the official order for Mahjoubi’s expulsion, which was seen by AFP.

Mahjoubi called for “the destruction of Western society,” and the order said that the imam also referred to “the Jewish people as the enemy.”

The imam was also accused of disseminating a video in which he called the “tricolour” “satanic” and of “no value with Allah,” failing to clarify whether he was referring to the French flag. In self-defense, Mahjoubi said that it had been a “slip of the tongue” and that he had been alluding to rivalry between football fans from several Maghrebi countries during the most recent African Cup of Nations.

At his in-laws’ home in Soliman, 30 kilometers (19 miles) east of Tunis, the imam said to AFP, “I will fight to return to France where I have lived for 40 years.” Mahjoubi, a construction firm owner, said that he was the only provider for his family, which included his youngest kid who is receiving cancer treatment in the hospital. He said, “If the court does not grant me justice, my lawyer is going to take legal action in France. I will appeal, and then I will appeal to the European Court” of Human Rights.

“I did not disparage the Jewish community or the French flag,” he said. Darmanin said on social media on Thursday that the removal served as a “demonstration” of how a newly passed immigration legislation “makes France stronger.” The government’s reaction to the far-right’s increase in French opinion surveys was seen as include the bill that tightened immigration regulations.

Darmanin criticized a “radical imam who made unacceptable comments,” saying “Firmness is the rule.” Mahjoubi said that Darmanin was using his situation to “create a buzz around the immigration law” and criticized the deportation as being based on “an arbitrary decision.”

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