France Plans to Deport Turkish Man, Accusing Him of Militantism
May 4, 2004
Craig S. Smith
ReligionNewsBlog.com • Tuesday May 4, 2004
PARIS, May 3 – The French police have detained a Turkish man who runs a mosque in Paris, and they are planning to deport him for advocating violence, France’s Interior Ministry said over the weekend. The move is the latest in the country’s campaign to rid itself of outspoken advocates of Islamic militancy.
The man, Midhat Guler, 45, was taken into custody late Saturday at his home in the Paris suburb of Courtry after the ministry issued an expulsion order. The ministry said in a statement that Mr. Guler heads the French branch of a Turkish Islamic movement that supports terrorism.
It was France’s second high-profile effort to expel a militant Muslim in as many weeks. Earlier, the ministry deported an Algerian cleric from a suburb of Lyon on charges that he had terrorist links. That deportation order was suspended on appeal and the cleric, Abdelkader Bouziane, is awaiting a visa to return to France.
France has expelled dozens of militant Islamists since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States. The French lack of tolerance for radical discourse has hardened further since the train bombings in Madrid in March.
Just hours before Mr. Guler was arrested Saturday, the interior minister, Dominique de Villepin, met with the country’s regional Muslim leaders and urged them to guard against dangerous strains of fundamentalism within their communities.
“It’s your responsibility, with the help of the state if you judge it necessary,” Mr. de Villepin told members of the government-sponsored French Council of the Muslim Faith.
Tensions have risen between the government and Islamic leaders as the government tries to suppress a growing hard-line Islamic trend in the country. Most recently, the country has angered Muslims by prohibiting women from wearing head scarves at school, and the expulsions have led some to charge that a witch hunt is under way.
France, with Europe’s largest Muslim population, has made it clear that it wants to push Islam into the same marginal role that the Catholic Church has played in the country’s predominantly secular society.
President Jacques Chirac said Sunday that those who came to live in France must adopt French values. “Nobody can take advantage of an allegiance to a community to impose their law on the law,” he said at a conference on local government.
Mr. Guler’s son, Abdurrahman, told Reuters that his father did not preach at the mosque that he ran in Paris’s 11th Arrondissement.
But the Interior Ministry contends that Mr. Guler, who has been in France for 28 years, is the leader of the Kaplanci movement, which calls for a return of the Islamic caliphate in secular Turkey.
Mr. Guler, who is being held at a detention center near Charles de Gaulle International Airport, north of Paris, has requested political asylum to prevent his deportation to Turkey. The Interior Ministry said it would try to extend his detention while the request was examined.
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