An imam in the Catalan city of Terrassa has been arrested for calling upon his followers to "discipline errant women" in their community who do not follow their husband’s orders or strict Islamic law.
In his sermons, the imam, Abdeslam Laaroussi, a Moroccan, would allegedly offer examples on how to beat women and isolate them, and discourage men from having sexual relations with them.
According to police, Laaroussi told his followers that it was best to punch women or use a stick on different parts of their bodies "without breaking their bones or making them bleed".
The Catalan police force, subpoenaed the man to give a statement, after complaints were filed that he was trying to encourage gender violence.
While he refused to give a statement, he was charged after investigators found that his speeches and sermons contained elements that promote violence and discrimination.
"He provided concrete examples of the manner in which wives should be beaten, how to isolate them inside the family home
and how to deny them sexual relations," said the police, saying they had received testimony to the effect from numerous witnesses.
A police statement confirmed his arrest for "disseminating discriminatory messages and violating the principle of equality and of women's right to physical and moral integrity".
Terrassa, with a population of about 200,000, is home to a large Muslim community. Laaroussi's Friday sermons are usually attended by some 1,500 people.