French Imam Arrested on Money Laundering
- French Imam Arrested on Money Laundering
By Hadi Yahmid, IOL Correspondent
Meskin and 20 members of his family and aides were arrested as part of
a probe into money laundering activities linked to a "terrorist
PARIS The arrest of Daw Meskine, Secretary General of the French
Council for Imams, and his son on suspicion of money laundering
activities linked to a "terrorist" organization has sent shockwaves
across the sizable Muslim minority.
"We are in contact with the Interior Ministry to find out why he has
been detained," Zuhir Burik, the council's president, told
He said the arrest raises many questions.
"Meskine is a prominent and respected Muslim figure and is well known
to French authorities and Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy himself,"
Interior ministry sources told IOL Meskine and his son were arrested
on Monday, June 19, as part of a probe into the funding of his
al-Najah school and a farm he owns in northern France, which he has
turned into as a summer camp for the school students.
Some 20 members of Meskine's family and aides were arrested in the
swoop ordered by Paris prosecutors.
The sources said the arrests are linked to an investigation into
laundering money coming from Gulf countries and money laundering
activities linked to a terrorist organization.
Meskine had told IOL that funding for his private school comes largely
from donation made by students' parents and members of the Muslim
Meskine, of Tunisian background, is a leading figure of the sizable
Muslim minority, estimated between six and seven million.
He helped jumpstart inter-faith dialogue in France, home to the
biggest Muslim minority in Europe.
The arrest drew fire from officials in his al-Najah school, France's
first private Muslim high school which is located in the northern
Paris suburb of Aubervilliers.
"The arrest came 15 days before approving state funds for the school,"
a well-place source told IOL, requesting anonymity.
"It is only meant to deprive the school from state funding," he charged.
Under law, private schools qualify to receive state finances after
operating independently for five consecutive years.
School staff also blasted the arrest.
"It was made to happen with the end of the school year when the
majority of French Muslims go on summer holidays to abort any
mobilization for his release," said Abdul-Hafez, a school teacher.
"It is also because of Meskine's criticism of the French Council of
Muslim Faith (CFCM) which was not seen unfavorable by Sarkozy," he added.
Sarkozy has said that police would be granted extra powers to expel
more "radical" imams from the country in the wake of the London
bombings, which killed 56 people.
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