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EXTREMISM

Court in Spain approves deportation of ‘Salafist’ extremist to Morocco

A court in Spain has approved the deportation of a Moroccan Muslim activist, who is accused of being one of the "main advocates" in Spain of the Salafist movement of ultra-conservative Islamism.

national court spain madrid
The National Court also approved Thursday the deportation of another Moroccan, Amarouch Azbir, who is in charge of the Al Furquan mosque in the Catalan port of Vilanova i la Geltru. (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP)

Police arrested Mohamed Said Badaoui on Tuesday in the northeastern province of Tarragona, where he was the president of the Association for the Defence of the Rights of the Muslim Community (Adedcom).

The 40-year-old was transferred to Madrid and he will be deported to Morocco on Thursday, the National Court said in a ruling dated October 19 which was only made public Thursday.

The court said it had approved the interior ministry’s deportation order due to “his participation in activities contrary to national security” and “public order”.

Spanish police consider Badaoui to be “one of the main advocates in Spain of the most orthodox Salafism, which he preaches so influentially that an increase in radicalism occurred in Tarragona” since he moved there, it added in its ruling.

Tweet posted by Badaoui which reads “You are not only responsible for what you do, but also for what you do not do, what you do not defend and what you remain silent about.” 

They also accuse him of “taking advantage” of the “vulnerability” of minors who arrive in Spain without their parents, “mainly of Moroccan origin”, to indoctrinate them in the “most radical Salafism,” which promotes a strictly conservative lifestyle.

Badoui has rejected these accusations. Well-known in Spain’s northeastern region of Catalonia where he has lived for nearly three decades, he presents himself as an activist and anti-racism campaigner.

He has been supported by Catalonia’s main separatist parties which govern the region as well as by the regional branch of far-left party Podemos, the junior partner in Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez’s coalition government.

In a joint statement the parties said police had accused Badoui of “religious extremism” without providing proof.

The National Court also approved Thursday the deportation of another Moroccan, Amarouch Azbir, who is in charge of the Al Furquan mosque in the Catalan port of Vilanova i la Geltru.

He is also accused of promoting Salafism and was also arrested on Tuesday in a separate police operation.

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CRIME

At funeral, hundreds mourn verger killed in Spain church attack

Hundreds of mourners gathered Friday for the funeral of the verger who was killed when a machete-wielding assailant attacked two churches in Spain as investigators probed the reasons for the deadly assault.

At funeral, hundreds mourn verger killed in Spain church attack

They gathered at Nuestra Señora de La Palma, one of the churches targeted in the southern port city of Algeciras, where the coffin of verger Diego Valencia was placed. Dozens more gathered in the square outside.

Valencia, who was in his 60s, was first injured inside the church, fleeing outside to escape the attacker who pursued him into the square and killed him.

Dozens of red candles and bunches of flowers were laid on the spot where he died, and after the mass ended and his coffin was driven away in a hearse, the crowd broke into emotional applause, an AFP correspondent said.

The assailant also entered the nearby San Isidro church, attacking its 74-year-old priest Antonio Rodríguez, who was badly injured and underwent neck surgery but has since been released from hospital.

Arrested at the scene, the suspected attacker – a 25-year-old Moroccan called Yassine Kanjaa – has since been transferred to Madrid where he is being questioned by investigators, a police source said.

He is due to appear before a judge at the Audiencia Nacional, Spain’s top criminal court, on Monday facing terror-related charges.

The government has said he was served with a deportation order in June but had no prior convictions and had not been under surveillance.

Investigators probe motive

Speaking in Algeciras late on Thursday, Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska said the suspect had “never been on the radar for radicalism” in Spain nor in any neighbouring countries.

Asked whether the suspect was mentally ill, Marlaska said he was not ruling out anything.

“The terrorist aspect of the events is being analysed, but there are also other possibilities,” he said.

In court documents seen by AFP, the judge leading the investigation said the bloodshed could be considered linked to “jihadist Salafism” and that after his arrest, the suspect repeatedly shouted: “Allahu akbar” (God is greatest).

The incident drew condemnation from across the political spectrum although opposition leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo, head of the right-wing Popular Party and a possible future candidate for prime minister, found himself in hot water after remarks widely seen as Islamophobic.

“It’s been many centuries since a Catholic or a Christian has killed in the name of their religion or beliefs and yet other nations have some people who do that,” he said.

His remarks were swiftly denounced by Education Minister Pilar Alegría. “There are times when it is better to remain silent and seem responsible than to speak out like that,” tweeted Alegría, a spokeswoman for the ruling Socialists.

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