An Algerian Muslim leader expelled from France for defending the "stoning and beating of unfaithful wives" is free to return after a court ruled his deportation order has been illegal.
The Lyon administrative court upheld its initial suspension of the expulsion order against Abd Al-Qadir Bouziane, who the government said had abused human rights and maintained links with "terrorist networks" in France and abroad.
The ruling was a setback for Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin, who sent Bouziane to Algiers last Wednesday after an uproar over comments made in a magazine interview.
Bouziane had lived in France since 1979 and has a wife and 16 children in the country.
Villepin promised last Friday to provide more evidence against Bouziane after the Lyon court suspended his expulsion order on grounds the government had not provided enough
information to justify it.
Bouziane, a prayer leader (imam) in the Lyon suburb of Venissieux, told the monthly Lyon Mag Islam permitted the stoning of adulterers and husbands had the right to beat unfaithful wives.
This sparked a wave of criticism from local politicians.
While the court backed Bouziane's appeal against deportation, it did not grant a request that the government should pay to bring him back to France within five days.