The applicant, Chérif Boudelal, is an Algerian national who was born in 1945 and lives in Avignon. The case concerns the French authorities’ refusal to reinstate him as a French national. Mr Boudelal has lived lawfully in France since 1967. In 2009 he applied for French nationality by reinstatement. The Ministry for immigration, integration, national identity and supportive development rejected his application on the ground, in particular, that he had links with “a movement responsible for violent actions and advocating a radical practice of Islam: the Paix comme Palestine collective”, of which he was Chair, being the local branch of an organisation “close to the ideology of Hamas (Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood)”.
Mr Boudelal appealed to the Ministry for immigration, integration, national identity and supportive development. The Minister’s deputy decided to confirm the refusal.
Mr Boudelal and his wife, who had met with a similar refusal, applied to the Nantes Administrative Court for the annulment of the decision. On 22 February 2012 the court dismissed their applications. The Nantes Administrative Court of Appeal upheld the judgment on 31 May 2013. It observed that it was first and foremost the responsibility of the minister for naturalisations to give an assessment of the interest in granting naturalisation or reinstatement of French nationality to a foreigner who applied for it, and that in the context of the “examination of appropriateness” the Minister was also entitled “to take into account any unfavourable information received as to the applicant’s conduct”. The application for legal aid filed by Mr Boudelal for the cassation proceedings was rejected on the ground that no serious ground of appeal on points of law could be raised against the judgment of the court below.
Relying on Articles 10 (freedom of expression), 11 (freedom of assembly and association), and 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion), Mr Boudelal complains that the domestic authorities took their decision on the basis that he was a campaigner for the cause of Palestinians and of immigrants. The applicant complains of a “denial of nationality for a thought-crime”.
Press release ECHR 219 (2017) 30/06/2017