31 October 2012

Tunisia: France Expels Tunisian Imam for Hostile Sermons

French authorities kicked a Tunisian imam out of the country on Wednesday for promoting jihadist violence, violence against women and anti-Semitism. The Interior Ministry says it will not tolerate hatred towards French values.

Mohamed Hammami is the 77 year-old religious director of the Omar Mosque in the centre of Paris and has been living in France for several decades.

France's Interior Ministry has accused Hammami of using hostile language towards France during his sermons.

Hammami "encouraged violent jihad, made anti-Semitic remarks and justified the use of violence and corporal punishment against women," the ministry said in a statement.

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

Hammami's expulsion was confirmed by his son, Hamadi, who said his father was stopped by the DCRI special intelligence unit before being taken to the airport.

Hammami was targeted in January during former President Nicolas Sarkozy's presidency by then-Interior Minister Claude Guéant, who accused him of using violent anti-Semitic language in his sermons.

He was nearly expelled in May, before the decision was overturned.

France has stepped up its efforts to tighten security in recent weeks, and worked to strengthen its anti-terrorism law.

Since the initial accusations, Hammami has denied any wrongdoing.

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