France bars four Islamic preachers from entry


Egyptian-born cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi is one of four Islamic clerics who have been barred from entering France in order to attend a conference on March 29, 2012.



France barred four Islamic preachers from entering the country in order to attend a conference on Thursday, said the Associated Press.

According to France's foreign ministry, the clerics were invited to speak at a congress in Le Bourget in April by the French Islamic Union.

One of the clerics who was barred, the Egyptian-born Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, is one of the most prominent voices in Sunni Islam, said the AP.

In a joint statement, Foreign Minister Alain Juppe and Interior Minister Claude Gueant said the four preachers called "for hate and violence ... and, in the current context, present a strong risk of upsetting public order," according to Reuters.

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On Monday, President Nicolas Sarkozy said al-Qaradawi and another Egyptian cleric, Mahmoud al-Masri, were not welcome in France, according to Reuters. Sarkozy has vowed to crackdown on radical Islamists after the Toulouse killings at a Jewish school which involved a lone gunman inspired by Al Qaeda's philosophies.

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France 24 compared al-Qaradawi to a televangelist, referring to the popularity of this show "Sharia and Life" which has millions of viewers across the world.

The Union of French Islamic Organizations, which had invited the Islamic scholars, said it was hurt by the French government's "manifest determination to prolong a polemic... based on total ignorance," according to Al Jazeera. The organization also said the bans "risk deepening the feeling French Muslims have of being blacklisted and treated with prejudice."

France has the largest Islamic minority in Europe, at five million.

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