This arrest warrant was issued by an investigating judge in Valenciennes (North) for “evading the execution of a deportation decision”, sources familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The preacher, implicated for remarks deemed contrary to the values ​​of the Republic, had remained untraceable Tuesday by the police at his home in Lourches, near Valenciennes, after the validation of his expulsion order by the Council of State.

The next day, the prefect of the North had explained, during a press conference, having seized the prosecution, and qualified the imam as a “delinquent” since “he evaded an expulsion order”.

Contacted by AFP, the Valenciennes prosecutor’s office did not respond.

“This European arrest warrant amazes us because if it exists it would be based on an offense which we believe is not constituted”, given that Mr. Iquioussen “has left French territory”, reacted to the AFP his lawyer, Me Lucie Simon.

“Why look for him? Why do you want to bring him back?” she wondered.

– “Soft” –

According to sources familiar with the matter, if Mr. Iquioussen had actually remained in France, the reason for the arrest warrant would have been justified. But, the Minister of the Interior has since affirmed that the imam was “obviously in Belgium”.

In this case, according to these same sources, Mr. Iquioussen is considered to have executed the removal order himself, because the terms of expulsion are not set out in an expulsion order.

Thursday evening, the Belgian authorities were not aware of the issuance of a European arrest warrant. A spokeswoman for the Belgian Ministry of Justice told AFP that Mr. Iquioussen did not appear in police files as being wanted in Belgium.

“It’s complicated legally,” admitted to AFP a source close to the case, another arguing that it had been necessary to show “legal acrobatics to bring a legal action against someone under the blow of an administrative measure”.

“The Ministry of the Interior is not in a legal position in this case”, but “in a political spectacle”, estimated Me Simon.

She denounces “a political will to create buzz, to send him back to Morocco under the gaze of the cameras”. “It has no other logic than the morbid one of humiliation.”

– “Grotesque” – 

The Council of State had given the green light on Tuesday to the expulsion of Mr. Iquioussen, born in France 58 years ago but of Moroccan nationality, whom Gérald Darmanin had made in recent weeks a symbol of the government’s fight against the “separatist speeches”.

The Minister of the Interior announced on July 28 the expulsion of this preacher from the North, on file S (for state security) by the DGSI “for eighteen months”, according to him.

The expulsion order accuses him of “a proselytizing speech interspersed with remarks inciting hatred and discrimination and carrying a vision of Islam contrary to the values ​​of the Republic”. His YouTube channel is followed by 178,000 subscribers.

To further complicate this legal imbroglio, Morocco announced on Tuesday, after the decision of the Council of State, to suspend the “consular pass” issued at the beginning of August to allow the expulsion of the imam to its territory.

“We start looking for someone who has applied the expulsion order himself to send him back to a country that has withdrawn his pass,” LFI deputy from the North, David Guiraud, told AFP. , which denounces a “grotesque” soap opera.

“If Imam Iquioussen is arrested in Europe and Morocco no longer wants to take him back, where does he go? What is the rest of the story?”, for his part reacted the RN deputy from the North, Sébastien Chenu , interviewed by AFP. “I would like our brilliant lawyers and Minister of the Interior to explain to us what they have in mind.”