France's decision to deport an Algerian Muslim preacher who was accused of spreading hatred has sparked debates around freedom of speech in Europe. Eyes On Events talks about the move and where the line on freedom of expression is drawn.
El Hadi Doudi, 63, was accused of provoking hatred towards minority groups after reportedly making public speeches which promoted anti-Semitism. The imam, whose mosque in the city of Marseille was shut down last year, also stated that women should not be allowed to leave home without permission and targeted Shiite Muslims in his speeches.
France's decision to deport the preacher was backed by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Thursday, and he was sent back to Algeria on Friday, according to French media outlets.
However, his deportation has raised questions of freedom of speech in France and the rest of Europe, with the chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, Mohammed Shafiq, stating during an Eyes On Events segment that "you can't be talking about freedom of speech and integrity and then actually silence people."
The view was countered by Stephen Morris of the English Democrats Party, who claimed that a person's freedom of speech shouldn't extend to those who want to take that very right away from others.
"It's not a case of free speech, where he's just putting across his own views. He wanted other people to be treated less favorably than him. He wanted women not to leave the home, he wanted to deny them their freedom of movement," he said, adding that Doudi wasn't abiding by European values.
Shafiq hit back, however, noting there should be some sort of consistency. "We have a number of far-right extremists who constantly demonize Islam and Muslims in this country [the UK]. Where do you draw the line? What actions should be taken against them?" he said. Shafiq added that he agrees that Doudi is misogynist, anti-Semitic, and targets minority communities within the Muslim faith, and that such people should have no place in European societies.
Morris said that there indeed is a lack of consistency, but from a different perspective. He brought up the fact that far-right journalists have been banned from entering the UK, "and yet we've got extremists here who we cannot deport back to their own countries."
But according to Shafiq, "the idea that this is only happening to white extremists is absurd." He responded to Morris' criticism of the UK justice system by giving names of Muslim extremists who are currently behind bars for promoting terrorism.
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