Hundreds of Salafis arrested in Tunisia

Hundreds of Salafis arrested in Tunisia

DUBAI - Agence France-Presse
Hundreds of Salafis arrested in Tunisia

Tunisian police fire tear gas as clashes broke out with radical Islamists in Ettadhamen, a neighbourhood 15 kilometers west of Tunis. AFP photo

Tunisian police arrested some 200 members of the hardline Islamist Ansar al-Sharia in weekend clashes that erupted after a ban on their congress, Prime Minister Ali Larayedh said.

“Those who have been arrested number 200,” Larayedh said at the Doha Forum in the Gulf state of Qatar, quoted by the Arabic daily Al-Hayat.

One protester was killed and 15 policemen wounded in the clashes that broke out in Tunis on May 19 after the authorities banned Ansar al-Sharia (Partisans of Islamic Law) from staging their annual congress. The fighting erupted when Ansar al-Sharia urged its followers to mass in the capital’s suburb of Ettadhamen in defiance of a ban on their gathering in the central city of Kairouan.

The Tunisian leader warned of firm action against Ansar al-Sharia, an organization that he said has links to and is involved in “terrorism.”

“This group is engaged in violence, is opposed to the state and revolts” against the authorities, he said. “We will deal with extremism firmly, we will be rigid,” said Larayedh, a former interior minister and member of the ruling party Ennahda.

However, the fugitive leader of Ansar al-Sharia, had said his supporters cannot be defeated despite their “persecution,” in a recording posted online late May 19. “You have shown the entire world that your efforts cannot be defeated despite the persecution of your leaders,” Abu Iyadh said.