AFRICA >Conviction over Islamic art riots

TUNIS - Agence France-Presse

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Incidents after the exhibit were followed by two days of violence in Tunisia.

Incidents after the exhibit were followed by two days of violence in Tunisia.

A Tunisian court on Wednesday sentenced to two months in jail a court official on charges of inciting a wave of riots by condemning an art exhibit as offensive to Islam, his lawyers told AFP. But Mohamed Ali Bouaziz could avoid jail if he agrees to pay a 1,000-euro ($1,250) fine, his attorney Fathi Layouni said.

Bouaziz was arrested in mid-June and accused of triggering riots that engulfed several parts of Tunisia on June 11 and 12, which left one dead and more than 100 wounded, by calling for a protest against an exhibit at a gallery in Tunis. The exhibit included a painting of a naked woman with bearded men standing behind her and a piece spelling the world “Allah” with a file of ants. During a June 27 hearing in the northern city of Carthage, Abdelaziz said that after stumbling across the exhibit “by accident” on June 10, he went to his neighbourhood mosque and showed photos of the “offensive” works, calling for a protest at 6:00 pm. “I left the protest at 7:30 pm at the police’s request and I had nothing to do with what followed,” he said. Suspected Salafists -- who follow an ultra-conservative brand of Islam -- sneaked into the gallery the same day and destroyed some of the works. The vandalism was followed by two days of violence.


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