Expulsion of the imam of Bagnols-sur-Cèze: the prefect of Gard denounces “calls to hatred”

“Yes, obviously there is an appeal to hatred

Expulsion of the imam of Bagnols-sur-Cèze: the prefect of Gard denounces “calls to hatred”

“Yes, obviously there is an appeal to hatred. » Guest of Franceinfo, Tuesday February 20, the prefect of Gard, Jérôme Bonet, commented on the recent comments of the Tunisian imam of the Attawba mosque in Bagnols-sur-Cèze, Mahjoub Mahjoubi, whose expulsion Gérald Darmanin requested.

In a video circulating on social networks, the imam described the “tricolor flag” – without specifying whether it was the French flag – as a “satanic flag” which has “no value with Allah”. .

In a longer version of his sermon, also broadcast on social networks, he evokes the arrival of the mahdi, the messenger of God who will bring together all Muslims at the end of time: “He will proclaim himself and there all governors in all governances will fall. (…) We will no longer have all these tricolor flags which plague us, which give us headaches, which have no value with Allah; the only value they have is a satanic value, he proclaims. See all these flags we have in the matches. (…) These are satanic flags that are worthless. Those who imposed them are simply so that we hate each other, that we do not love each other, that we put hatred in our hearts. »

“We are dealing with content that fundamentally calls into question our values,” insisted Mr. Bonet, while the Nîmes public prosecutor's office announced on Monday that it had opened a preliminary investigation for advocating terrorism against Mr. Mahjoubi. “No call to hatred will go unanswered,” the Minister of the Interior warned on his X account on Sunday, who “requested the withdrawal of [Mr. Mahjoubi’s] residence permit with a view to his expulsion from the territory ".

Mahjoub Mahjoubi denies talking about “the French flag”

“I was in no way talking about the French flag,” Mahjoub Mahjoubi defended himself on the airwaves of France Bleu Gard Lozère, explaining that he was denouncing the rivalries between supporters of Maghreb countries during the recent African Cup of Nations. (CAN): “I'm talking about stadiums and all these flags that are raised in stadiums and which divide Muslims. » The imam explained that he had made “a slip of the tongue in [his] speech”, believing that he was not “Voltaire nor Victor Hugo”. “In my remarks, instead of saying “all these multicolored or different colored flags”, I said “all these tricolor flags”, but in no case was I talking about France, he continued. I defend the Republic, secularism, I defended Samuel Paty, I was in the march for Charlie Hebdo. »

However, for Mr. Bonnet, “there are several dozen minutes of sermons which have been analyzed and which contain many things other than this pseudolapse”. If he assures that it is up to “the prosecution to characterize the offenses”, the prefect of Gard considers that Mr. Mahjoubi's sermon contains “remarks which do not only concern the question of the flag, which also relate to the place of women, of the Jewish people, whom he designates as an enemy”. Furthermore, the prefect of Gard specified that this mosque in Bagnols-sur-Cèze, “probably adrift”, had been the subject of monitoring for several months. And this “drift is consecrated by several recent sermons”.

According to the Gard prefecture, contacted by Le Monde, Mr. Mahjoubi has been the subject of three reports to the justice system in recent months by the prefectural services. The first, in 2023, for facts relating to his personal activity as company manager − while he does not have the right to exercise this function − and the other two, in 2024, within the framework of his ministry of imam of the Attawba mosque.