Nader Abou Anas
Place of Residence:
Seine-Saint-Denis, Paris, France
Imam, lecturer, businessman
Since the early 2000s, he has devoted most of his time to learning Islamic sciences, and spreading the message of Islam.
For six years he studied Arabic and religious science at Sheikh Ayoub’s madrassah in Paris, a teaching center known in Salafi circles for providing radicalized training on French soil.
He is known for making disturbing comments regarding women’s status in Islam and pushes a conservative Salafi ideology to his young audience.
In 2019, Abou Anas created controversy by signing an anti-Islamophobia petition launched by the daily newspaper Liberation. After other signatories voiced their concern, the imam was invited to withdraw his signature from the list.
The source of the controversy was a video in which Abou Anas justifies marital rape, saying: “At night he (the husband) has a need, a desire, and she says ‘no’ and she’s lying claiming, ‘I’m tired, I can’t, I’m this, I’m that.’ And the man cannot stand it anymore. And so there she opened a door of sh-shar (evil). Let her know that the angels curse her all night if she refuses her husband for no good reason. And it is not my word, it is the word of the Prophet.”
Signatories including Caroline de Haas, a militant feminist, asked that their name be removed from the petition, but said they would still join a planned rally.
Later Abou Anas withdrew his name from the list, but took the opportunity to claim that he had “changed and that these old words no longer reflected who I am.”
The new-generation activist also took to Twitter, saying that he understood the “legitimate emotion” caused by the video and that he had “evolved a lot” on the issue of violence against women.
In true chameleon fashion, Abou Anas knows how to adapt and modify his discourse to offer an appearance of seductive modernity for a young audience while also encouraging doubts about his religious extremism.
On the veil
For Abou Anas, the message of the Qur’an is clear: A Muslim woman worthy of the name must cover herself. “Wearing the veil is a religious obligation for Muslim women,” he said.
Abou Anas is a master of manipulation. He frequently contradicts himself in his statements, most likely to serve non-spiritual interests.
Among the imam’s various businesses is a dating site dedicated to Muslims. When asked who can register on the site, he does not hesitate to answer: “Who can register? Any serious Muslim person who is looking for something serious, whether divorced or not, whether veiled or not — this site is for you.”
When it comes to finding members who pay to access his platform, he casts a wide net and includes unveiled women who no longer pose a problem to his religious morality.
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With his beguiling smile, the 30-year-old imam Nader Abou Anas represents the new face of French “home-grown” Salafism, delivering provocative and often contradictory messages to a mainly young audience living on the periphery of the country’s cities.
Abou Anas is a public speaker and president of the D’Clic Institute, a teaching association created in 2010. He presents himself not only as an imam and lecturer but also as a student.
Since the early 2000s, he has devoted most of his time to learning Islamic sciences and spreading the message of Islam.
Abou Anas is typical of an emerging generation of Salafist preachers. Unlike his predecessors, he did not study in the countries of the Gulf or Egypt, but followed the teachings of Yves Leseur, a convert trained in Pakistan and widely known in French Salafist circles as “Sheikh Ayoub.”
For six years Abou Anas studied Arabic and religious science at Sheikh Ayoub’s madrassah in Paris.
Abou Anas launched the website Dourous.net. in 2007. Three years later, he founded his own training center, the D’Clic Institute, in the northeastern Paris area of Bobigny.
The institute offers Arabic courses, and teaches the Qur’an and Islamic sciences to children and adults. It also operates in mosques in the Seine-Saint-Denis, and the nearby suburbs of Le Bourget (before it was closed in May 2016) and Pre-Saint-Gervais.
In Bobigny, Abou Anas shares the former offices of the Department of Youth and Sports with an “Iqra,” or faith school. The result is a disturbing partnership based on a malign vision of the Muslim religion.