A Moroccan imam was banned from staying in Belgium in October, considered “a threat to national security”, in particular for having called for “the burning of Jews” in a video, the government said Thursday.
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The information, revealed by the Flemish public channel VRT, was confirmed by the Belgian Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration, Sammy Mahdi.
This imam, Mohamed Toujgani, who preached until last year at the Al-Khalil mosque in Molenbeek, one of the largest Muslim places of worship in Belgium, had his residence permit withdrawn “on 12 October “2021, said the services of Mr. Mahdi in a statement.
This preacher “had been contested for some time. In 2009, he again called for the burning of Jews, ”the statement added.
The video resurfaced in 2019, said VRT, stressing that Mr. Toujgani had apologized for these comments, referring to “a slippage” linked to “the war” waged by Israel against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.
Mr. Toujgani, considered an influential cleric, responsible for the League of Moroccan Imams in Belgium, was monitored by the State Security, the Belgian civilian intelligence service.
Sammy Mahdi explains that he decided to ban his stay three months ago “on the basis of information from the security services”, and “because of signs of a serious danger to national security”. This ban is for ten years.
“We will not tolerate those who divide and threaten our national security,” insisted the Secretary of State.
Why this decision in 2021? Asked by AFP, the State Security replied that it “does not communicate information on an individual file for which procedures are underway”.
According to the VRT, Mr. Toujgani is no longer in Belgium at present, but he has contacted a lawyer to challenge his deportation. The imam, established in Belgium for 40 years, has a wife and children residing in the country, according to the Flemish channel.
The Al-Khalil mosque, located in the Brussels municipality of Molenbeek, is managed by the Islamic Mutual Aid League (LEI) which presents itself as “the largest Muslim institution in Belgium”, also including training centers and a school in Arabic language welcoming 500 children and adolescents.