Tunisian Imam expelled from France

By Sandy Rashty, November 5, 2012
President Hollande promised to defend French Jews (Photo: AP)

President Hollande promised to defend French Jews (Photo: AP)

The French government has expelled Tunisian Imam Mohammed Hammami after accusing him of antisemitism, encouraging violence against women and promoting a holy jihad.

Mr Hammami, from the Omar Mosque in Paris, was arrested at this home and deported to Tunisia last Wednesday for “deliberate, repeated and unacceptable provocations” that threaten French society and security, according to the French Interior Ministry.

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls said: “We decided to be uncompromising against all those who utter hate speech against the Republic and our values.”

Mr Hammami, 77, has denied the allegations since his assets were frozen by the French government in May.

French President François Hollande pledged to defend Jews against antisemitism during a diplomatic meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last Thursday.

The leaders visited the Ohr Hatorah school in Toulouse, where four people were killed by Islamic extremist Mohamed Merah this year, and President Hollande said: "French Jews must know that the republic will use all means available to protect them - their security is a national cause.”

Mr Netanyahu welcomed the response, saying: "Antisemitism turns into a fire that quickly engulfs all in its path. It was no coincidence that the murderer of Toulouse killed not only Jews but also French soldiers, Christian and Muslim, with no distinction."

Meanwhile, a Tunisian terrorist group that planned to kidnap a local Jew has been arrested and put on trial.

The fundamentalist group, led by a senior Tunisian police officer and four Libyans, plotted to snatch a young Jewish man and hold him ransom.

The Salafi jihadist police officer, who has not been named, used a loan to purchase firearms, vehicles and recruit people to help with the attack.

Ironically, the officer had been heavily involved in a national security programme to protect Jews in south Tunisia.

Arab media outlets reported that the would-be attackers were aiming to scare the remaining 1,500 remaining Jews in Tunisia into leaving the country.

Khaled Tarrouche, the interior ministry spokesman, did not identify members of the group but confirmed that they planned to attack: “One or two Jews from well off families to obtain a ransom,” according to AFP.

Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the death of 21 people during an attack on a Tunisian synagogue in 2001.

Last updated: 10:12pm, November 5 2012