On March 8 a commission of magistrates began the process of deporting the influential Salafist Algerian imam El Hadi Doudi at the Interior Minister Gerard Collomb’s request. Doudi is suspected of having conducted radical and hateful preaching against Jews and those he refers to as “unbelievers” in his Marseille mosque.
The committee follows the deportation proceedings initiated by Collomb in January 2018. Several weeks earlier, in December 2017, the Bouches-du-Rhône police department ordered the closing of his mosque As-sounna for six months.
To avoid deportation, Doudi, who arrived in France in 1981 and is father to seven children, three of which are minors, offered to stop preaching and “renounce his work as an imam.” The commission, for its part, acknowledged his “ambiguous family situation;” divorced, he has had two religious marriages to foreign women, ages 43 and 21.
The discourse in question “calls for the defeat and destruction of unbelievers,” “encourages the application of talionic law against those who combat God and his Prophet and for whom God’s sentence is death or crucifixion.” As well as comments “presenting Jews as ‘impure,'” “the brothers of monkeys and pigs,” and encouraging his followers to recite “Allah akbar” in public places to “frighten unbelievers.”
Doudi was also questioned about violent remarks made in 2013 regarding the cartoonists who depicted the Prophet Muhammad, which he kept on his website even after the 2015 terror attacks. He defended himself, saying: “I said that I did not agree but I did not encourage people to kill or to protest.”
His lawyer Nabil Boudi has accused authorities of having “extirpated several quotes from tens of thousands of sermons.”
“It could be Quran verses, remarks shortened by translation or bits of sentences,” Boudi said, insisting that Doudi represents “a rigorous, Orthodox Islam,” that authorities might consider to be “borderline,” but that there is “no call for jihad, no call for terrorism.”
Doudi’s mosque is located in one of Marseille’s poorest neighborhoods and is one of the five largest in the city. In recent years it has been attended by Al Qaeda supporters as well as those who have left to fight in Iraq and Syria.
The note from the intelligence services lists seventeen mosques in the department where Imam Doudi has been influential, for example in Gardanne, where the imam who “conducts the five prayers of the week in As-sounna also delivers the Friday prayer.” He also has a large online following: his site has received 3.5 million visits since April 2005.