Government expells three imams

The Dutch Immigration Ministry is moving toward expelling three Muslim prayer leaders, or imams, who authorities have accused of spreading a radical form of Islam at a mosque in the Netherlands.

Government officials announced Tuesday that they had revoked the immigration visas of two imams and refused an extension for a third.

It was the first measure in the Netherlands effort to target people accused of promoting extremism in the name of Islam, and came nearly four months after the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh. A suspected Islamic extremist allegedly shot and fatally stabbed van Gogh last November shortly after the release of his film, "Submission," which is a fierce critique of the treatment of women under Islam written by an anti-immigration member of parliament.

Van Gogh's slaying was followed by dozens of arson attacks against mosques and counterattacks on Christian churches over a two-week period.

The three imams, whose names were not released, preached at the al-Fourqaan mosque in the southern Dutch city of Eindhoven, an alleged gathering spot for some members of al-Qaida preceding the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States.

"The imams contribute to radicalization of Muslims in the Netherlands. They also tolerated recruitment for jihad (holy war) in their mosque," the Justice Ministry said in a statement.

Martin Bruinsma, a spokesman for the Immigration Service, said the imams will be deported "as soon as possible" pending a possible appeal. One of the imams was from Bosnia and another from Kenya. The nationality of the third was unknown, officials said.