Prague, Czech Republic – Czech authorities announced that former Prague Imam Samer Shehadeh had been taken into pre-trial custody, along with two other suspects, for allegedly supporting, promoting and financing terrorism and terrorist organizations in the country.
The Islamic cleric decided not to appeal his detention. “I cannot give more information, the investigation is currently underway”, spokeswoman for Prague’s 5th district tribunal Jana Humeni told reporters.
The Czech-born imam of Palestinian descent could face up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the crimes he’s accused of. According to local media, the two other suspects arrested are his brother and sister-in-law, whom he allegedly helped receive combat training in Syria.
M. Shehadeh has been under investigation by Czech intelligence services since 2016, who suspected him of attempting to radicalize the Czech Republic’s Muslim community. He left his post as imam in 2014 and was eventually expelled by the Czech Muslim community, according to Radio Prague. After preaching for some time in Slovakia‘s capital Bratislava, he was once more expelled and was recently captured in Jordan before being flown back to the Czech Republic this week.
Out of a total population of 10.6 million people, there are roughly 20.000 Muslims currently living in the Czech Republic, and only a minority of them of them are considered regular worshippers. However, the Central European country has recently been swept by a growing wave of anti-Muslim rhetoric while xenophobia and racism have been on the rise and became more and more mainstream. To know more about it, you can read our recent article on the topic.