Tunisia worried on rift between seculars, Salafis
TUNIS - Agence France-Presse
Salafi demonstrators wave flags during a protest outside the Tunisian Parliament in Tunis in this photo. Tension grows between seculars and Salafis in the country. REUTERS photoTunisian president’s office has warned of attempts to sow division inside the country, after a series of incidents that highlight the growing tension between advocates of Islamist and secular values.
In a statement issued March 18, the president’s office expressed concern over the profanation of mosques in the capital Tunis and in Ben Guerdane, to the south. But it was equally concerned about the actions of radical Islamist activists. The country’s left-leaning opposition Progressive Democratic Party expressed similar concerns March 18 at what it said was an attempt to create discord and conflict inside the country.
And in recent comments Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali said: “Tunisia’s biggest danger is the conflict between reactionaries and modernists.” “The Tunisian revolution is now at a crossroads,” Jebali said March 14. President Moncef Marzouki had followed with “consternation” and concern “The repeated violations of the sacred and of symbols of unity and national identity,” said statement from his spokesman. On March 15, eggs were thrown at the walls of mosques at Ben Guerdane. Inside the mosques, copies of the Quran were found torn up. In Tunis, vandals drew stars of David, a Jewish symbol, on the walls of the El Fath mosque. The mosque is often the starting point for demonstrations by Salafi community after Friday prayers. But the presidential statement also referred to an incident staged by a Salafist activist who had tried to replace the national flag, flying over the roof of the arts and humanities faculty building at a university, with the black flag of Islam. “These acts aim at dividing and opposing the people on questions such as identity, the sanctity of the national flag and the untouchable character of sacred symbols,” the presidential statement said.