France: growing influence of Salafist Imams

Source: FSSPX News


Observers agree that the movement is gaining ground. Mainly in the depressed areas, where the pugnacious talk by the more or less charismatic imams, makes followers, mainly among the black youth of African origin, or from the Maghreb, little integrated in society and tempted by religious radicalism, sometimes to the point of terrorist acts. According to Renseignements généraux (RG), the Salafists control around thirty mosques. Enough to worry the French authorities, who have carried out twelve expulsions of imams since July 2003. They are usually Salafists, with hard line tendencies.

The Salafist movement, an extremist trend, inspired by Saudi wahhabism, is split into two branches. The jihadists, supporters of hard line action. Emblematic of this branch, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), a terrorist organization based in Algeria. The other branch: the sheikhists, who refuse to get mixed up in politics but who, nonetheless, follow scrupulously the fatwas (decrees) of the Saudi sheikhs. It is therefore not uncommon, that in the mosques where Salafists are influential, as in Stains, in Argenteuil or Sartrouville (in the Paris region), the faithful listen directly, by teleconference, to the sermons of Saudi imams. They are also able to get in direct contact with the Saudi peninsular, thanks to the Internet.

Here are the names of some of the expelled imams, with the charges upheld against them. Amongst others, Abldelkader Bouziane, the imam of Vénissieux, a suburb of Lyons, expelled in a blaze of publicity on April 21, to Algeria, his country of origin; Salem Chaftar, Tunisian imam, arrested for questioning by the crime squad of Paris, for having launched an appeal for “a jihad against the infidels”, in the prayer room of Clamart (Hauts-de-Seine); Yahia Cherif, imam of Brest, expelled to Algeria, on April 15, as a threat to State security, on account of his “proselytism in favor of fundamentalist Islam” and of being in active contact with organizations advocating terrorist acts”. The RG accuse him of supporting “the salafist jihad and international terrorism, as he had already done after the Madrid attack.” Ali Yashar, nicknamed “Ali the Iraqi” has been under house arrest since February 24, suspected of having incited the faithful of the mosque at Argenteuil (Val d’Oise), where he is the imam, to attack American interests.