58-year-old imam Hassan Iquioussen, who allegedly has close ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, was put on a flight from Belgium to Casablanca, Morocco, on Friday evening, after being in Belgian state custody since September. Belgian State Secretary for Asylum and Migration Nicole de Moor (CD&V) confirmed the news of Iquioussen’s deportation.
In a tweet, de Moor, who referred to Iquioussen as a “hate preacher,” stated that there was “no place for foreign extremists in our country,” as she welcomed the “good cooperation” from France, which had issued a European warrant for his arrest.
Iquioussen is a Moroccan citizen born in France. According to court documents, he has spoken out against France’s secular state, incited “a kind of separatism,” fueled “conspiracies about Islamophobia” and “developed anti-Semitic theories.”
The imam had his base of operations in northern France. French authorities, who perceived him as a threat, considered deportation. Last summer, French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said that Iquioussen had been “sowing the seeds of a Jihadist atmosphere.”
When France did not renew his residency permit and it looked as if the country would soon deport him to Morocco, Iquioussen fled to neighboring Belgium, as The European Conservative previously reported. This prompted France to issue a European arrest warrant.
On September 30th, Iquioussen was apprehended by Belgian authorities near the Walloon city of Mons. On orders from de Moor, he has been held in a detention center since last November in absence of a permit to remain on Belgian territory.
Belgium never had any intention of granting such a permit, with various Belgian politicians being strongly opposed.
Authorities then had to determine whether Iquioussen should be extradited to France or face deportation to Morocco. The Court of Appeal of Mons found the former unjustified, as the facts undergirding the European arrest warrant did not constitute an offense under Belgian law.
With extradition off the table, the imam tried to contest his deportation. In early December, his request to stay was rejected by the Council for Immigration Disputes.
In recent weeks, Brussels has been consulting both with Paris and Rabat on the matter. After gaining Morocco’s consent to take him in, the process of Iquioussen’s expulsion could be brought to an end.