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France warns radical clerics

Paris, April 15 (Reuters): France today threatened to deport any Muslim leaders preaching extremist views, after fundamentalist Muslims won a strong voice in a new council to represent Islam in France.

Interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy said the council, which will represent the country’s five million Muslims, would not be allowed to become a breeding ground for radical Islam. “Islamic law will not apply anywhere because it is not the law of the French republic. Imams whose views run contrary to the values of the republic will be deported,” Sarkozy told Europe 1 radio.

“(The council gives us) more latitude to fight against the Imams who advocating violence or anti-Semitism. Those Imams will be expelled,” he added.

Earlier this month, Britain revoked the citizenship of a radical Muslim cleric, Abu Hamza al-Masri, who praised the September 11 attacks, after banning him from preaching at his London mosque because of his extreme statements.

The French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), elected at the weekend and due to start work in September, is aimed at fostering a better understanding of Islam in secular and mainly Catholic France.

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