France Expels Anti-Semitic Tunisian Imam

France expels Mohammed Hammami, an imam accused of anti-Semitism and of calling to "violent jihad" against women.

Elad Benari ,

French President Francois Hollande
French President Francois Hollande

France on Wednesday expelled a Tunisian imam accused of anti-Semitism and of calling his followers to "violent jihad" and violence against women, the interior ministry said, according to a report by AFP.

Mohamed Hammami was subject to "expulsion from French territory. He has been deported to Tunisia, where he is a citizen," the ministry said in a statement.

"In his sermons," Hammami "encouraged violent jihad, made anti-Semitic remarks and justified the use of violence and corporal punishment against women," added the ministry.

"These unacceptable, deliberate, repeated provocations and discrimination constitute a threat to French society and security."

The imam's son, Hamadi Hammami, told AFP he believed France's DCRI domestic intelligence service had arrested his 77-year-old father in the streets before taking him to the airport.

In January, said the report, former interior minister Claude Gueant accused Hammami, who had been living in France for a long time, of making violent anti-Semitic remarks and of calling for adulterous women to be flogged to death.

Hammami, whose assets were frozen by the government in May, has denied all the allegations.

A deportation committee had issued in May a statement against expelling Hammami because it would "affect his family life", but the opinion only carried advisory weight.

The incident took place as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu arrived in France on Wednesday, where he met with French President Francois Hollande.

On Thursday, Netanyahu will travel to Toulouse to attend a memorial ceremony for three children and a French-Israeli teacher at a Jewish school who were shot dead by a gunman who also killed soldiers of North African origin.

France has seen a surge of 45% in the number of anti-Semitic incidents over the past year. Data released several weeks ago found that the anti-Semitic incidents increased after the massacre in Toulouse.

In an interview with the French magazine Paris Match on Tuesday, Netanyahu addressed the surge in anti-Semitic attacks in France and said, “The French government is committed to fighting anti-Semitism. [President] Francois Hollande has assured me of this, as did his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy. French leaders have understood that this fight is not only important for the Jewish citizens of France, but also for France itself.”

“As Prime Minister of Israel,” added Netanyahu, “I certainly wish that every Jew were back here, at home, on his own land.”