Belgium Muslim Cleric Hate

Belgium moves to expel mosque imam over security fears

October 3, 2017

Brussels (AFP) - Belgium has moved to expel an Egyptian preacher at the country's biggest mosque because he posed a "national security" threat, officials said on Tuesday.

Immigration Minister Theo Francken revoked the residency permit of the imam of the Saudi-financed Grand Mosque, near the EU headquarters in Brussels.

Belgium has been hit by several attacks since 2016, including suicide bombings claimed by the Islamic State group that killed 32 people at Brussels airport and a metro station.

"Everybody knows there is a problem with the Grand Mosque in Brussels. I decided to withdraw the residency permit of the imam of this mosque," Francken told Bel-RTL.

"We have had very clear signals he is a man who is very radicalised, salafist, very conservative and dangerous for our society and national security," Francken added.

Francken did not identify the imam but his office told AFP his name is Abdelhadi Sewif, a man of Egyptian origin who has lived in Belgium for 13 years.

Belgian authorities first decided in March not to renew the imam's residence permit but he has appealed against the decision and judges will review his case on October 24, an official said.

After the deadly Brussels bombings in March last year, the mosque defended itself against charges that it was preaching a puritanical strain of Islam and was even a hotbed of extremism.

Belgium eager to expel 4 more imams

Flanders News

The Belgian authorities are monitoring the activities of four imams, who they believe are encouraging young people to become extremists. The four risk being expelled from the country as has just happened with an imam from Verviers.

Belgian Asylum Secretary Theo Francken has told lawmakers that he would like the imams to be expelled. The Asylum Secretary informed MPs that the residence permit of an imam holding joint Moroccan Dutch nationality from Dison has been revoked. The imam was active in radical circles in the Verviers area, the scene of the killing of two Muslim extremist terrorist suspects last January.

The Immigration Department is examining the papers of four other imams suspected of preaching radicalism. They include two Moroccans, an Algerian and an Afghan.

Mr Francken defended the measures he had taken to screen radical imams and jihadi fighters returning from Syria. Some measures are being taken against people who have not been convicted of committing any offence: "All western countries have such a system. I believe it's absolutely necessary and I wonder why it hasn't happened before."

The imam, who’s lost his residence permit, can appeal, but his appeal will not prevent his expulsion. Once he has officially been informed he has 30 days in which to leave the country. He will not be able to enter Belgium for ten years. The imam stands accused of propagating a Salafist agenda and glorifying armed jihadism and terrorist atrocities. One of his heroes includes, Mohammed Merah, the Algerian, who killed three children and an adult at a Jewish school in Toulouse (France) in 2012.