Sarkozy bars Qaradawi from France, says radical imams unwanted after Toulouse

By Daniel Flynn
March 26, 2012

(Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi speaks during the first conference of the "National Dialogue" in Tripoli December 10, 2011. REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny )

France will bar radical Muslim preachers from entering the country to participate in an Islamic conference next month as part of a crackdown after shootings by an al Qaeda-inspired gunman, President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Monday.

Sarkozy, who has announced plans to punish those viewing Islamist Web sites and going abroad for indoctrination, said he would block the entry of some imams invited to a congress organized by the Union of French Islamic Organizations (UOIF).

The UOIF, one of three Muslim federations in France, is regarded as close to Egypt’s Islamist Muslim Brotherhood.

“I have clearly indicated that there certain people who have been invited to this congress who are not welcome on French soil,” Sarkozy told France Info radio.

He cited Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian cleric based in Qatar who is one of the most prominent Sunni Muslim clerics in the Arab world and a household name in the Middle East due to regular appearances on the Al Jazeera news channel.

A former member of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, Qaradawi is independent of the group but remains close to it. Sarkozy said the situation was complicated because the imam holds a diplomatic passport and does not require a visa to enter France.

“I indicated to the Emir of Qatar himself that this person was not welcome on the territory of the French republic,” Sarkozy said. “He will not come.”

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