France on Thursday banned four Muslim preachers from entering the country to attend an Islamic conference, saying their “calls for hatred and violence seriously damage republican principles.”
France also “regrets” that Swiss intellectual Tariq Ramadan has been invited to the meeting of the Union of Islamic Organizations in France (UOIF), a statement from Foreign Minister Alain Juppe and Interior Minister Claude Gueant said.
Akrima Sabri, Ayed Bin Abdallah al-Qarni, Safwat al-Hijazi and Abdallah Basfar are banned from entering France, while Qatari preacher Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Mahmud al-Masri “decided not to come,” the statement added.
President Nicolas Sarkozy asked to ban the clerics from attending the April 6-9 conference at Le Bourget outside Paris in the wake of a series of killings by Toulouse gunman Mohamed Merah that shocked France.
“These people's positions and statements calling for hatred and violence seriously damage republican principles and, in the current context, represent a serious threat to public order”, the statement said.
“We regret that the UOIF has also chosen to invite Tariq Ramadan, a Swiss national, whose positions and statements are against the republican spirit, which does not do any service to France's Muslims.”
The case against Tariq Ramadan
Tariq Ramadan has been pledging for the past days that religion was not the main drive of Mohamed Merah, the Toulouse gunman and that his crime shouldn’t be labeled as “Islamic.”
In an interview with French newspaper, Le Monde, published yesterday, Ramadan said that “France should understand that Mohamed Merah is the son of France and not Algeria.”
Ramadan had earlier wrote a piece where he stated:
“Religion was not Mohamed Merah’s problem; nor its politics. A French citizen frustrated at being unable to find his place, to give his life dignity and meaning in his own country, he would find two political causes through which he could articulate his distress: Afghanistan and Palestine. He attacks symbols: the army, and kills Jews, Christians and Muslims without distinction.
“His political thought is that of a young man adrift, imbued neither with the values of Islam, or driven by racism and anti-Semitism. Young, disoriented, he shoots at targets whose prominence and meaning seem to have been chosen based on little more than their visibility. A pathetic young man, guilty and condemnable beyond the shadow of a doubt, even though he himself was the victim of a social order that had already doomed him, and millions of others like him, to a marginal existence, and to the non-recognition of his status as a citizen equal in rights and opportunities,” he added.