The residency permit for the imam of Belgium’s largest mosque was withdrawn by the Belgium government in October of last year following concerns over “threats to national security,” it emerged on Thursday.
State Secretary for Asylum and Migration Sammy Mahdi revoked the right for Mohamed Toujgani, head imam of the Al Khalil in Molenbeek, to permanently reside in Belgium, banning him from entering the country for ten years subject to appeal.
According to Mahdi’s office, the government had received information from the Belgian security services which showed that Toujgani, who had resided in the country for 40 years, posed a “serious threat to national security.”
An order to leave Belgium was served on the imam, a Moroccan national, which according to Belgian news outlet, VRT, he complied with.
“In the past, we gave too much leeway to radical preachers,” migration secretary Sammy Mahdi admitted in a statement.
“This man was probably the most influential preacher in Belgium. With this decision, we are making a difference and giving a clear signal: we will not tolerate those who divide and threaten our national security,” he added.
Toujgani had been a controversial figure in Belgium for a number of years, following the unearthing of disturbing footage dating back to 2009 in which he made several anti-Semitic remarks and called for the burning of “oppressive Zionists.”
Toujgani’s preachings of conservative Islam are consistent with those endorsed by the controversial Muslim Brotherhood movement, an organization which calls for the gradual Islamization of Western society, and one which the imam is reportedly associated with.
VRT also suggested that Belgian security services were concerned with Toujgani’s alleged links to the Moroccan government through his presidency of the Ligue des imams marocains de Belgique, an organization that aims to unite Moroccan imams across Belgium but is also said to “spread extremism and engage in espionage.”
Despite the preacher’s considerably long stay in Belgium stretching back to 1982, he mastered neither the Dutch nor French language.