PARIS - France is planning to ban the entry of prominent Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi into the European country to attend a major Islamic conference next month.
"I have clearly indicated that there certain people who have been invited to this congress who are not welcome on French soil," French President Nicolas Sarkozy told France Info radio.
Qaradawi, the president of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS), has received an invitation from the Union for French Islamic Organizations (UOIF) to visit France.
But Sarkozy said that Qaradawi, who is based in Qatar, will not be allowed into the country.
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"I indicated to the Emir of Qatar himself that this person was not welcome on the territory of the French republic," Sarkozy said.
"He will not come."
The move comes days after Sarkozy announced a crackdown on preachers he says promote "radical views" in the wake of a spate of killings by an Al-Qaeda-inspired gunman in Toulouse.
Earlier, Sarkozy's close adviser Henri Guaino said the French government would take measures to block Qaradawi's entry.
"This person does not require a visa because he holds a diplomatic passport, but measures could be taken to prohibit him from entering France," he told French Radio J.
"The French government does not want any extremist preachers entering its territory.
Qaradawi, one of the most influential scholars in the world, is known for his moderate views and is widely respected around the world.
He is also the chairman of the European Council for Fatwa and Research and a trustee of the Oxford University Center for Islamic Studies.
He has published dozens of books, chiefly The Lawful and the Prohibited in Islam.
He has vehemently condemned all terrorist attacks in the West, including the 9/11, Madrid and London, as well as the Bali bombing that targeted foreign tourists in Indonesia.
Qaradawi has also denounced attacks in Arab countries, including the bombing that targeted UN offices in the Algerian capital.
Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone has described Qaradawi as a "leading progressive Muslim" and likened him to reformist Pope John XXIII.
He praised Qaradawi's staunch support to democracy and efforts to bridge the gap between Islam and the West.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net