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France deports radical Muslim cleric who insulted the French flag

Mahjoub Mahjoubi imam deported from France Tunisia

A Tunisian imam who appeared to call the French flag “satanic” in a viral video has been deported from France.

Mahjoub Mahjoubi, 52, who has lived in France for 38 years and was an imam in a mosque in a small town in the south of the country, was expelled by French Interior Minister GĂ©rald Darmanin last week for “radicalism” and “unacceptable remarks”.

Mahjoubi is married with five French children, but is not a citizen himself, and his residency permit was cancelled by Mr Darmanin over the video where he called a “tricolour” flag “satanic” and of “no value with Allah”.

“The radical Imam Mahjoub Mahjoubi has just been expelled from the national territory, less than 12 hours after his arrest. We will not let people get away with anything,” Mr Darmanin said.

Mahjoubi said he had made a “slip of the tongue” while discussing the African Cup of Nations soccer tournament, and vowed to fight the deportation, France 24 reported.

“My lawyer is going to take legal action in France if the court does not grant me justice, I will appeal, and then I will appeal to the European Court” of Human Rights, he added.

“I did not insult the Jewish community, nor the flag of France.”

But his expulsion order, viewed by French media, claimed that Mahjoubi referred to “the Jewish people as the enemy”, called for “the destruction of Western society”, and had encouraged behaviour in sermons this month that could cause “jihadist radicalisation”.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s immigration reforms have made it easier to deport foreign residents who are considered a “grave threat to public order” or are convicted of a crime.

The new laws were brought it by Mr Macron’s centrist party in response to the rising popularity of the far-right in France and growing anger over immigration.

“Without the immigration law, this would not have been possible. Firmness is the rule,” Mr Darmanin said.

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