A local court in France has sentenced an imam of Pakistani origin to 18 months in jail for the propagation of extremism on social media.
Luqman Heider, a part-time imam of the Quba Mosque in the Villiers-le-Bel commune in the Val-d’Oise department of France, now faces a lifetime ban on his entry into France. He will never be able to set foot in France again, after finishing his prison sentence.
Heider was accused of defending terrorists in three videos in connection with the Charlie Hebdo killings. The videos were posted on TikTok on September 9, 10 and 25.
“This individual peddles and sends messages through social networks to reach countless people. Not just the faithful of Villiers-le-Bel,” the prosecutor said.
In his videos, the former imam spoke about attacking non-Muslims and disbelievers and sending them to hell. He also thanked the terrorist for carrying out the attacks.
The court ruled that his speech was hateful in nature and could potentially motivate more people to take up arms and carry out attacks.
It is believed that Heider, who arrived in France in 2015 from Pakistan, will have to return back to his native place once the prison sentence is served.
After his arrival in France in 2015 and a tumultuous four-year journey. France – and more precisely Paris – was his objective to “flee the poverty” of his country of origin.
He finally landed in Villiers-le-Bel
He creates affinities with the inhabitants of this city of Val-d’Oise, works in a restaurant, intervenes occasionally as imam at the Quba mosque and gives Koran lessons to children.
From 2018, he is housed in an apartment belonging to the place of worship.
Luqman Haider says he feels good in this country. He has also submitted asylum requests on several occasions, but all have been rejected and the man is now subject to an obligation to leave the territory.
This Thursday, he shyly slips that this is his “first face-to-face with justice”. For nearly two months, he has been in pre-trial detention for the content of videos that he still cannot explain.
According to the head of the mosque, Luqman Haider “never had any problematic or controversial remarks”. The defendant even claims to practice a pacifist Islam which claims to be Sufism.
The president of the court remains circumspect about these explanations. “What you say in your videos is very different from the message of love and peace that you present to us. What did you think of to say such things?” He asks him. Luqman Haider is beating around the bush, the president tries to reframe him:
But after more than four hours of debates, the president considered that the charges against Luqman Haider were “incompatible with the values of the Republic. In this context, the Republic cannot keep you on its territory,” he said. concluded with the 18 months imprisonment with warrant of committal.