Belgian court blocks order to deport imam of Belgium’s largest mosque

BRUSSELS — A Belgian court announced Tuesday that it had struck down an effort to deport an imam at Belgium’s oldest mosque, saying that Belgian immigration authorities had not provided evidence the cleric posed a serious threat to society.

The imam, Abdelhadi Sewif, has worked at the Grand Mosque of Brussels for 13 years. The Belgian state secretary for asylum and migration, Theo Francken, accused Sewif of threatening national security as he sought to reject a residence permit renewal. Sewif has denied the charges and said that he was never able to review the evidence against him, because it was classified intelligence material.

The decision curbs the efforts Belgian authorities have started to make against the mosque, which is Belgium’s largest and is leased by the Belgian government to the Saudi royal family. Belgian lawmakers and counterterrorism officials have raised concerns about the unusual arrangement of foreign control of the mosque, which they say makes it less accountable to national authorities.