Lawyers for the 58-year-old imam used a direct summons procedure to go to court.

In this direct quote, consulted by AFP, the lawyers accuse the Minister of the Interior of remarks which they consider defamatory with regard to Mr. Iquioussen.

They dispute in particular statements by Mr. Darmanin on BFMTV on September 2, in which he presented the imam as “a delinquent, a fugitive and a separatist” or affirmed that “Mr. Iquioussen, who has things to blame himself for, evaded the court decision”.

Hassan Iquioussen already won a first round on Friday before a court in Belgium, where he went into exile.

After hearing the imam behind closed doors, who contests his extradition, the council chamber of the court in Tournai (western Belgium) “refused the surrender to France”, his Belgian lawyer Nicolas Cohen told AFP. .

The Tournai public prosecutor’s office announced that it had appealed.

Hassan Iquioussen, arrested on September 30 in French-speaking Belgium, is under a deportation order.

At the end of July, Gérald Darmanin had announced the expulsion of this preacher from the North, on file S (for state security) by the intelligence services “for eighteen months”, according to him. But Mr. Iquioussen could not be found when this decree, which he had challenged in court, had been definitively validated by the Council of State on August 31.

According to his lawyer, Me Lucie Simon, his client “purely and simply respected French law by leaving France for Wallonia”.

The lawyer had challenged the validity of the arrest warrant issued by a judge in Valenciennes (north), believing that it was based “on an unconstitutional offense”.

Born in France, Mr. Iquioussen had decided at his majority not to opt for French nationality.

He claims to have given it up at the age of 17 under the influence of his father, and then tried in vain to recover it. His five children and his 15 grandchildren are French and established in the North of France: one son is an imam in Raismes, another ex-elected PS in Lourches.