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France Deports Islamic Mosque Leader

Associated Press
May 20, 2004 • Friday May 21, 2004

PARIS – France deported an Islamic mosque leader Thursday who was accused of leading a group that advocates terrorism, the Interior Ministry said.

The expulsion of Midhat Guler is part of a growing French crackdown against radical Muslim clerics.

Islam / Islamism

Islamism is a totalitarian ideology adhered to by Muslim extremists (e.g. the Taliban, Wahhabis, Hamas and Osama bin Laden). It is considered to be a distortion of Islam. Many Islamists engage in terrorism in pursuit of their goals.

Adherents of Islam are called “Muslims.” The term “Arab” describes an ethnic or cultural identity. Not all Arabs are Muslims, and not all Muslims are Arabs. The terms are not interchangeable.

Guler, a Turkish national, was taken out of France by plane, but the ministry did not indicate what the destination was.

“This expulsion is motivated by the threat that this person represented to the public order,” the ministry said in a statement. “Mr. Guler is in fact a leader in France of a Turkish Islamic extremist movement called ‘Kaplan’ that preaches use of violence and terrorism.”

The ministry statement was an apparent reference to a group that calls for establishing an Islamic state in Turkey as a breeding ground for Islamic terrorists.

Guler, 45, was the leader of a mosque near the Bastille area of eastern Paris, the ministry said. He has lived in France for 28 years and has five children.

The French government has pledged to deport those who preach Islamic fundamentalism. But it suffered an embarrassment last month when it expelled an Algerian Muslim prayer leader, Abdelkader Bouziane, who condoned wife-beating and allegedly made calls to violence. Days after Bouziane was put on a plane to Algiers, a court ruled the deportation was unwarranted and said he could return to France.

Bouziane, 52, an imam at a mosque in Venissieux, a suburb of the southeastern city of Lyon, has said he plans to return to France.

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