Swiss Imam and head of the Islamic Centre of Geneva, Hani Ramadan, has been forced to leave France. The Egyptian born cleric, the older brother of the Islamic scholar and intellectual Tariq, was arrested on Saturday in Colmar, eastern France, and escorted by police convoy to the French Swiss border.
French authorities released a statement in which they stressed that Ramadan had been "returned to the border" rather than "expelled" from France – a lesser penalty under French law. The decision is linked to previous views and opinions that he had expressed. "He is known in the past to have adopted behaviour and made remarks which pose a serious threat to public order on French soil," the ministry statement said.
An interior ministry spokesperson, Mattias Fekl, said the ministry of interior, police and the judiciary were "fully mobilised to fight relentlessly against extremism."
In recent months, several of Ramadan's conferences and events in France have been cancelled, but on 7 April, the interior ministry issued an administrative ban on the 57-year-old imam ordering that he be returned to Switzerland where is a naturalised citizen. The order was enforced on 8 April in the northeastern part of France where he was expected to take part in a conference.
Ramadan vowed to challenge the decision.
The decree presented by the Ministry of Interior is wrong and is an attempt to silence my opinions.
In 2002 Hani Ramadan was sacked from his teaching post in Switzerland after writing an article in the French newspaper Le Monde in support of the punishment of adulterers and he suggested that the disease Aids was a result of promiscuity. In the article, Ramadan said the application of the Sharia penal code constituted "a punishment but also a form of purification".
In 2008, he won 345,000 Swiss francs ($480,177) compensation over the sacking but was not reinstated to his position. Ramadan continues to stand by the content of the Le Monde article saying the international community "has an unfortunate habit of confusing certain acts of resistance with barbarism".
"Muslims living in Europe have the right…to bear witness to their faith and their convictions," he said in another newspaper article, "even if it offends those who judge them before understanding them."
Since May 2012, 116 people have been "forced to leave" France and 26 mosques have been shut down.