Disavowing the administrative court of Paris, which had urgently suspended on August 5 the expulsion of this imam reputed to be close to the Muslim Brotherhood, the highest French administrative court considered that this decision to expel him to Morocco did not constitute “an serious and manifestly unlawful interference with (his) private and family life”.
Hassan Iquioussen, 58, was born in France and lives there regularly but had decided, when he came of age, not to opt for French nationality. He has five children and 15 grandchildren, all French.
In a tweet published just before the press release from the Council of State, the Minister of the Interior described this decision as “a great victory for the Republic”. “He will be expelled from the national territory,” added Mr. Darmanin.
The imam’s lawyer, Me Lucie Simon, reacted on the same social network by considering that this decision symbolized “a weakened rule of law” and deplored “an alarming context of pressure from the executive on the judiciary”.
“The legal fight continues, the administrative court of Paris will have to look into the merits of the case soon and Hassan Iquioussen is studying the possibility of seizing the ECHR again”, she added.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) had refused to suspend the deportation at the beginning of August, explaining that it only granted provisional measures of suspension “in exceptional circumstances”, when the applicant was exposed “to a real risk of irreparable damage”.
– “Incitement to hatred” –
In its decision, the Council of State considers that its “anti-Semitic speech”, “reiterated (…) after its apology of 2004”, and its “systematic speech on the inferiority of the woman”, in “videos always available on the internet, the last of which were carried out in 2021”, did indeed constitute “acts of explicit and deliberate provocation to discrimination or hatred”.
And if he recognizes that his ties in France are “strong”, he underlines that the children of the imam “are adults and no longer depend on their father and that his wife, who is also of Moroccan nationality, is not unable to travel to Morocco and join him there if necessary”.
The Council of State also rejected the other arguments raised by the imam’s defence, judging in particular that it was “not established” that a return to Morocco “could expose him to a risk of inhuman treatment and degrading”.
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, dated July 29, 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”.
Since then, Mr. Darmanin has spoken several times to justify his decision, notably accusing the imam, in an interview with the Journal du Dimanche, of sowing “an atmospheric jihadism” and advocating firmness in the face of a “minority of ‘borers’ among foreigners living in France.
Government spokesman Olivier Véran considered on Sunday that a possible blocking of the expulsion by the Council of State would constitute “a very bad signal”. Me Simon had criticized this speech on Twitter, considering it contrary to the “constitutional principle of separation of powers”.
During the hearing before the Council of State on Friday, the representative of the Ministry of the Interior had denounced the “double discourse” of Hassan Iquioussen, depicting him as “a charismatic preacher who knew how to acquire legitimacy within a very wide audience and which, for years, has been spreading insidious ideas which are no less provocations to hatred, discrimination and violence”.
Me Simon had stressed that the anti-Semitic or violently misogynistic remarks of which his client, whose YouTube channel has 178,000 subscribers, had “been made sometimes more than twenty years ago” and that he had “never been prosecuted or condemned for these remarks”.
Two investigations were also opened in August by the Paris prosecutor’s office after the numerous messages of threats and insults received by Me Simon and by one of the three magistrates of the administrative court, signatory of the order suspending the expulsion of Mr. Iquioussen.