On 26 November 2020, a Pakistani imam from a small town north of Paris was sentenced to 18 months in jail and is to be expelled from France for being a terror apologist. The imam, Luqman Haider, was found guilty of praising recent jihadist attacks that happened in the country and celebrating the attackers in videos posted on TikTok. He is the first radical preacher condemned for his use of TikTok in France.
Haider was a 33-year-old Pakistani national who arrived illegally in the Paris area back in 2015, seeking asylum and fleeing poverty from his country, as his lawyer put it at the bar. He settled in the diverse and multicultural environment of Villiers-le-Bel, home to 27,000 inhabitants from about 60 different nationalities. He taught Qur’anic lessons (dourous) to kids and young teenagers in the poor neighbourhood of Derrière-les-Murs de Monseigneur where an important Pakistani diaspora lives. Staying illegally on French soil, Haider was caught twice by the authorities who ordered he leave the country, and twice he refused without facing further enforcement. In 2018, he was offered an apartment owned by the Quba mosque, where he began officiating as an imam, preaching in Urdu for the local community.