France expels Tunisian preacher accused of hate speech

France has expelled a Tunisian preacher accused of hate speech, the country’s Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin has said.

“The radical imam Mahjoub Mahjoubi has just been expelled from the national territory, less than 12 hours after his arrest,” Mr Darmanin’s posted on X, formerly Twitter.

He was sent back to Tunisia via a Thursday evening flight, the Reuters news agency reported, citing French media reports.

The expulsion order, according to French media, says he promoted an “intolerant and violent” version of Islam that would encourage behaviour against French values, discrimination against women, “tensions with the Jewish community” and “jihadist radicalisation”.

Mr Mahjoubi caused controversy after a video of him describing the “tricolour flag” as “a satanic flag” with “no value with Allah” went viral earlier this week.

He did not specify which flag he was talking about, but many assumed he meant the French flag, which has three colours.

Mr Mahjoubi denied any wrongdoing and said that the statement in the video was misinterpreted.

His lawyers say he will appeal.

The preacher was expelled under a new immigration law that makes it easier for the French government to forcibly remove foreign residents from the country.

“This is the demonstration that the immigration law, without which such a rapid expulsion would not have been possible, makes France stronger. We won’t let anything go,” Mr Darmanin said.

Opposition politicians have accused the government of President Emmanuel Macron of pandering to the far right.

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