French Interior Minister Manuel Valls announced Sunday that the French government will be taking steps in the coming days to deport several radical Muslim clerics from the country in an effort to counter the rising tide of radical Islam and prevalent threat of “global jihadism.”
“Many radical preachers of foreign origin will be deported in the coming days.” Valls said, addressing an international conference in Brussels, as reported by the Franch Le Nouvel Observateur.
“I do not confuse this radical Islam with Islam as practiced in France generally,” he said, “but there is a religious environment, there are groups who adhere to Salafism, which is a political process, which quite simply aims to monopolize, at the same time, associations and the educational process and which has taken a firm grip in the minds of many families.”
His remarks come shortly after the assassination of Tunisian opposition leader Choukri Belaid, an outspoken critic of the country’s Islamist government.
“We will expel all these imams, these preachers, these foreigners who prey on women, hold beliefs contrary to our values and who advocate the need to fight France. From this standpoint, there is a need to be extremely resolute, and I will be,” Valls asserted.
“There is an Islamic fascism rising everywhere, but this obscurantism must, of course, be condemned because it denies the democracy for which the Libyan, Tunisian and Egyptian people have fought,” Valls told Europe 1 radio.
On Saturday, thousand supporters of Tunisia’s ruling Ennhada Islamist party rallied in the capital Tunis to protest “French interference” in Tunisian interior affairs.
The demonstrators waved flags of the Ennahda party and shouted “Get out, France!”
Tunisians overthrew the autocratic but secularist president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011, sparking the “Arab Spring” revolutions.
Referencing the brutal March 2012 murders in Toulouse, Valls said the perpetrator , Mohamed Merah, who killed seven people including three Jewish children before being shot dead by armed French police, was not a “lone wolf”.
“The actions of Merah were the result of careful preparation, a learning process involving many contacts. Clearly, he was not acting alone. He carried out the killings on his own but he had travelled in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He had contacts and he lived in an environment where he undoubtedly received rudimentary weapons training,” Valls asserted.