France To Boot Wife-Beat Imam

(AP) An Algerian-born Muslim cleric who said wife-beating was justified in cases of adultery has been detained and will be expelled from France, the Interior Ministry said Tuesday.

The announcement about Chirane Abdelkader Bouziane, an imam in the Lyon suburb of Venissieux, came after France deported another Algerian-born imam who was accused of preaching radical Islam.

Bouziane was detained hours after Justice Minister Dominique Perben said he may have to answer for his remarks.

Islam / Islamism

Islamism is a totalitarian ideology adhered to by Muslim extremists (e.g. the Taliban, 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.

“The government cannot tolerate remarks in public that are contrary to human rights, detrimental to human dignity and in particular to the dignity of women, (or) calls of hate, violence or defense of terrorism,” the ministry said in a statement.

In the April edition of the magazine Lyon Mag, Bouziane said he favors wife-beating “under certain conditions, notably if the woman cheats on her husband.” He claimed the Quran, the Muslim holy book, authorizes such punishment — an interpretation rejected by moderate Muslims.

Bouziane also said a woman should not work alongside a man because “she could be tempted by adultery,” according to Lyon Mag.

In its effort to fight the spread of Muslim fundamentalism, France has been cracking down on imams who preach violence or values that run counter to the mainstream.

On Thursday, France deported Algerian-born imam Abdelkader Yahia Cherif for allegedly preaching radical Islam at a mosque in the Atlantic coastal city of Brest.

The Interior Ministry said he gave a sermon last month that urged jihad, or holy war, and expressed support for the March 11 railway bombings in Madrid, Spain, that killed 191 people.

The Interior Ministry statement said Bouziane had been placed on an expulsion list on Feb. 26 for disturbing public order and that officials had now decided to speed up the case, the ministry said.

Also this year, France passed a law passed a ban on Islamic head scarves in public schools despite protests at home and abroad that it was discriminatory.

President Jacques Chirac said the law was needed to protect the principle of separation of church and state to stop the spread of Muslim fundamentalism in France.

The law forbids religious apparel and signs that “conspicuously show” a student’s religious affiliation — Jewish skullcaps and large Christian crosses. However, authorities made clear it was aimed at removing Islamic head scarves from classrooms.

Debate over head scarves divided France since 1989, when two young girls were expelled from their school in Creil, outside Paris, for wearing the head coverings.

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Associated Press, USA
Apr. 20, 2004

Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday April 21, 2004.
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