France has expelled a Tunisian imam accused of anti-Semitism and of calling his followers to "violent jihad" and violence against women, the interior ministry said.

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 on Wednesday.

"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 the AFP news agency 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, 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.

Source: Agencies