Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin vowed to strengthen the expulsion rules after Abd al-Qadr Bouziane was deported to Algeria in April and a local court ruled days later that the government had not justified its action and he could return.
Bouziane, a prayer leader in the Lyon suburb of Venissieux, was quoted by the magazine Lyon Mag as saying that the Quran permitted the stoning of adulterers and the beating of wives. He later said he was stating a fact and not giving his opinion.
The new bill extends the conditions under which a foreigner can be expelled from France to include persons who “explicitly and deliberately” call for “discrimination, hatred or violence against a specific person or a group of people”.
The bill now heads to the Senate, which will examine it in July, before a final reading in parliament.
Liberty and equality?
Villepin said the change in the expulsion rules allowed the government better to defend values of liberty and equality.
“Thanks to the text, it is not only anti-Semitic or racist comments that fully justify an expulsion, but also these intolerable remarks that attack women just because they are women,” Villepin told parliament.
France’s Muslim community is
President Jacques Chirac’s ruling UMP party and the centre-right UDF supported the bill. The Socialist and Communist opposition parties voted against it, some delegates arguing the scope of the measure was too wide.
France, whose five-million-strong Muslim community is Europe’s largest, has about 1,500 Islamic prayer leaders.
The French government has stepped up efforts to promote Muslim cleric training centres in France so that prayer leaders preach an Islam Paris deems compatible with a modern Western democracy.
Bouziane returned to France on 22 May and has since been placed under formal investigation – a step under French law that is just short of a charge – for “condoning a crime”.
His lawyer Mahmud Hebia has said the magazine had attributed some comments to Bouziane that he had never made and his client planned to sue the magazine for defamation.
Philippe Brunet-Lecomte, the publication’s director, has also been placed under investigation for “condoning a crime”.