Interior Minister: Country Must Train Imams in Moderate Islam

April 23, 2004

Source: The Guardian,3604,1201448,00.html

On April 23, 2004 The Guardian reported, "The French interior minister, Dominique de Villepin, said yesterday that the country must urgently begin training Muslim clerics in a moderate Islam that respects human rights and the republican code. Addressing a meeting of local prefects a day after he deported an Algerian imam who was in favour of stoning women, Mr. De Villepin said they should not think twice about expelling any foreign preacher who advocated violence, hatred, racism or human rights abuses. But he said France had to 'face the issue of training imams. I ask you to help the Muslim faith get organised better and more quickly so that a real "French Islam" can emerge.' The problem of radical Islamic clerics preaching a message contrary to French law and values is a pressing one: government figures show 27 Muslim prayer leaders have been deported on public order or human rights grounds since 2001 - more than half of them since last July."