40 imams deported from France since 2012 for ‘preaching hatred’

Updated 30 June 2015

40 imams deported from France since 2012 for ‘preaching hatred’

PARIS: France has deported 40 foreign imams for “preaching hatred” in the past three years, a quarter of them in the last six months, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said Monday.
The minister vowed to clamp down on mosques and preachers inciting hatred after a suspected Islamist beheaded his boss during an attack on a gas factory last week.
The attack, which had the hallmarks of a terrorist act but is also believed to have personal motivations, was the second in six months in France which is battling to curb radicalization that has seen hundreds of citizens leave to wage jihad in Iraq and Syria.
Any “foreign preacher of hate will be deported,” said Cazeneuve, adding that several mosques were being investigated for inciting terrorism and if found to be doing so, “will be shut down.”
“We have deported 40 preachers of hatred since 2012. Since the beginning of the year we have examined 22 cases, and around 10 imams and preachers of hatred have been expelled,” said Cazeneuve.
Yassin Salhi, 35, on Sunday confessed during interrogation to killing his boss and pinning his head to a fence of the Air Products factory near the eastern city of Lyon.
The severed head was discovered flanked by two Islamic flags and it later emerged he had sent a selfie of himself with the head to a number believed to belong to a French jihadist currently in Syria.
While Salhi was known to security services for links to radical Islamists in France, and his crime bore the hallmarks of a terrorist act, sources close to the investigation have suggested a personal dimension after a dispute with his employer two days earlier.
“There is no doubt of the personal motivations but there is a symbolism taken from the most atrocious, abject images of terrorism,” said Cazeneuve.


Graft trial for Syrian President Assad’s uncle opens in Paris

Updated 2 min 52 sec ago

Graft trial for Syrian President Assad’s uncle opens in Paris

  • Lawyers for Rifaat Assad cited health problems as the reason for his absence
  • He is dubbed the “Butcher of Hama” for allegedly commanding troops that put down an uprising in central Syria in 1982

PARIS: Syrian President Bashar Assad’s uncle went on trial in Paris Monday on charges of pilfering Syrian state coffers and using the spoils to build a property empire in France.
The dock was empty as the hearing got underway, with lawyers for 82-year-old Rifaat Assad citing health problems as the reason for his absence.
“His doctors have recommended that he avoids all stressful situations,” lawyer Pierre Cornut-Gentille told the Paris court.
Rifaat Assad, dubbed the “Butcher of Hama” for allegedly commanding troops that put down an uprising in central Syria in 1982, has been under investigation in France since 2014.
This year, an investigating magistrate ordered he stand trial on charges of organized money laundering related to his 90-million-euro ($99.5-million) property portfolio in France.
The trial of the younger brother of Syrian ex-president Hafez Assad — the current president’s father — is scheduled to last until December 18.
It concerns crimes allegedly committed between 1984 and 2016, including aggravated tax fraud and misappropriation of Syrian funds.
Assad, who splits his time between France and Britain, denies the charges.
Formerly Syria’s vice president, Assad left his home country in 1984 after mounting a failed coup against his brother Hafez, who led Syria from 1971 to 2000.
After he arrived in Europe, Rifaat Assad’s lavish lifestyle, four wives, and 16 children soon raised eyebrows.
His reported French fortune includes two Paris townhouses, one measuring 3,000 square meters (32,000 square feet), as well as a stud farm, a chateau and 7,300 square meters of office space in Lyon.
He and his family also built up a huge portfolio of 507 properties in Spain, valued at around 695 million euros, Spanish legal documents show. All his properties in that country were seized by the authorities in 2017.
Assad has maintained that his lifestyle was made possible by gifts from the Saudi royal family that amounted to more than a million dollars per month.
But despite documents from Assad’s lawyers meant to justify gifts of almost $25 million between 1984 and 2010, French investigators registered transfers of only $10 million from Saudi Arabia.
This is only the second trial of a foreign dignitary in France on charges related to “ill-gotten gains.”
The first, Equatorial Guinea vice president Teodorin Obiang, received a three-year suspended jail term in October 2017 after being convicted of using public money to fund a jet-set lifestyle in Paris.
Paris has long been a favored destination for the corrupt gains of wealthy figures linked to political leaders in Africa, particularly in France’s former colonies.