Why an imam from Toulouse was deported to Algeria

Why an imam from Toulouse was deported to Algeria

For Gérald Darmanin, this is proof of the effectiveness of the immigration law adopted on January 26. Mohamed Tataïat (formerly Tataï), 61, an imam working in Toulouse, was deported to Algeria on Friday April 19 after his final conviction for provoking hatred and violence against the Jewish community. An express expulsion which the Minister of the Interior immediately welcomed on the social network X (formerly Twitter): “Once again, the immigration law has made it possible to expel a hate preacher to his country of origin in less than 24 hours”.

An express procedure denounced by one of his lawyers, Me Jean Iglesis. “There was no emergency. Mr. Tataïat has been on French territory for 40 years. He has children, he works, he hasn't been talked about for seven years, and there he finds himself on a plane heading to Algeria. What is happening is of a certain seriousness”he was indignant, claiming to have received the expulsion order while his client was already on the plane.

The man of faith through whom scandal comes

This expulsion is the latest episode in a case which began in December 2017. At the time, Mohamed Tataïat was a simple man of faith, an Algerian state official, sent to France in 1985 to preach to the faithful. In 1987, this father of four children settled in Toulouse and took charge of the Al Nour mosque, in the popular Empalot district, a place of worship officially inaugurated at the end of June 2018, in the presence of local authorities and representatives of the different religions, Christians and Jews, of the city. A sort of consecration for Mohamed Tataïat which will only be short-lived.

Because shortly after the scandal broke out when a Jewish association fighting anti-Semitism unearthed a video broadcast on the YouTube channel, a recording of a sermon delivered in Arabic on December 15, 2017. A remark in which the imam cites a “hadith” , a word lent to the prophet by tradition, which proclaims: “The day of judgment will only come when the Muslims fight the Jews” and concludes with an invitation to ” servant of God “ has “kill the Jew”.

In the context of tensions between Palestinians and Israelis which reigned at the time, this sermon was interpreted by the prefect of Haute-Garonne as a “provocation of hatred and discrimination against Jews”. Seized, the prosecution began an investigation while the “Tataïat affair” ignited public debate. In July 2018, the Minister of the Interior at the time, Gérard Collomb, condemned “with the greatest firmness” these comments which mobilized anti-racist associations. Faced with the scale of the controversy, the rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, Dalil Boubakeur will also condemn “firmly and unequivocally” the terms used and their author.

A conviction confirmed in cassation

The person concerned turns his back. He denies being anti-Semitic, claims to have been mistranslated and misunderstood and even offers a timid apology in a filmed message. In June 2021, at first instance, the judges will acquit him, considering his comments “clumsy” But no “discriminatory”. On August 31, 2022, the Toulouse Court of Appeal will sentence him to 4 months of suspended prison time and a fine of around €30,000, but without a ban on practicing or an obligation to leave the territory. Since then, Mohamed Tataïat has been discreet, while continuing to preach at the Empalot mosque.

On December 19, the decision of the Court of Cassation to reject his appeal, thus making his conviction final, will precipitate things. In mid-March, Mohamed Tataïat and his defenders appeared before the departmental expulsion commission, a body which brings together magistrates from the judiciary and the administrative order, who gave an unfavorable opinion to the expulsion request made by the Ministry of the Interior. An opinion which Gérald Darmanin does not take into account, signing an expulsion order on April 5. Until this Friday morning when the imam was arrested at his home in Toulouse with authorization from the judge of freedoms and detention to be put on a plane, heading to Algiers.

“Methods that defy all rules of law”, support his lawyers. Me Iglesis and his two colleagues, Messrs William Bourdon and Vincent Brengarth, indicated that they had filed a summary liberty order with the Paris administrative court which must take up the matter at a hearing scheduled for Monday April 22.

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