AMSTERDAM — Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk is moving to deport three Muslim clerics because of accusations they represent a threat to public order and national security.
The three imams will be declared undesirable aliens and two of them will have their residence permits cancelled, the first such action has been taken against clerics.
In the third imam’s case, an application for an extension of a residence permit will be refused.
The Dutch security service AIVD said one of the imams originates from Bosnia and a second comes from Kenya. The origin of the third imam was not released, newspaper De Volkskrant reported.
Minister Verdonk took the decision in consultation with Interior Minister Johan Remkes. This represents the first active step in the government’s plan to crackdown on Islamic extremism.
Inquiries by the AIVD indicated that the imams “contribute to the radicalisation of Muslims in the Netherlands”, the Justice Ministry said on Tuesday. All three imams work at the Al Fourkaan mosque in Eindhoven.
The ministry claims the imams tried to recruit, or tolerated the recruiting, of Muslims for Jihad, or holy war. They are also accused of using their sermons to urge Muslims to “isolate” themselves from the rest of Dutch society.
The AIVD said the mosque in Eindhoven disseminated the Salafist philosophy — which is strongly opposed to Western society and the imams there were sponsoring aversion of the West in their sermons.
The Dutch Cabinet “declared war” on Islamic extremism following the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh by an alleged Islamic militant in November last year. One of the methods the government announced it would use was the expulsion of “radical imams”.
It has increased funding for the AIVD and judiciary and announced legislation forcing suspected terrorists to regularly report to police. Mosques also promised to keep closer tabs on extremism.
Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam and other areas such as train stations have been declared permanent security zones. Members of the public entering these areas can be picked out at random by the police and frisked.
The deportation comes after the AIVD pinpointed Eindhoven in recent years as a “hotbed” of terrorism. A total of 100 to 200 Muslims are currently under surveillance across the country.