August 19, 2010 / 3:30 PM / in 7 years

France expels "radical" cleric in anti-crime drive

PARIS, Aug 19 (Reuters) - France has expelled an Egyptian Muslim cleric it accused of preaching hate, the ministry of the interior said on Thursday, the latest deportation carried out in a crackdown on crime.

On Thursday, the first flights took off carrying Roma home from France after President Nicolas Sarkozy announced a drive against crime and illegal immigration, which has been condemned by human rights groups and the opposition.

Ali Ibrahim el Soudany, formerly the imam of a mosque in the the Paris suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis, was sent back to his country of origin, Egypt, Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said in a statement.

He had already been deported in January, but had made his way back to France, the statement said.

“This preacher of hate had repeatedly made offensive remarks concerning the Western world which were completely against the values of our society,” Hortefeux said.

There has been no comment from Soudany.

The ministry said 125 radical Muslims, of which 29 were imams or preachers, had been expelled from France since 2002. (Reporting by Sophie Taylor and Laure Bretton; Editing by John Irish and Mark Heinrich)

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