Tunisia bans planned demos after unrest

2012-06-14 17:32
Tunisia unrest. AP

Tunisia unrest. AP

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories


Tunis - Tunisia on Thursday banned protests planned by hardline Islamists demanding a more religious state following the worst unrest since the 2011 uprising that gave birth to the Arab Spring.

The north African country has been rocked by three days of violence that left one dead and dozens wounded after ultra-conservative Salafists took issue with works at an art exhibition they deemed offensive to Islam.

Several wings of the Salafi movement, which advocates practising Islam as it was by the Prophet 14 centuries ago, had called for mass protests following Friday prayers but the interior ministry said no rally had been authorised.

"No march has been authorised by the ministry of the interior," spokesperson Khaled Tarrouche told AFP, adding that "the law will be applied against all acts of violence... Some calls for violence are circulating on Facebook."

Whether the Salafists, who have been flexing their muscles since an uprising toppled longtime president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011, call off their protests remains to be seen and police were already out in force Thursday.

In a video posted on the Internet earlier this week, a Salafist leader, Abou Ayoub, urged Tunisians to "rise up on Friday after the prayer, in response to those who mock Islam".

The Ansar al Charia movement headded by former jihadist Abou Iyadh also called for nationwide protests.

The art exhibition in a Tunis suburb featured a painting of naked woman with bearded men standing behind her and a work spelling the world "Allah" with a file of ants.

The works were condemned by some as blasphemous and were destroyed Sunday night in an act blamed on Salafists.

100 injured

The incident sparked clashes across the north African country between Monday and Wednesday that saw police stations and political party offices torched.

One person was killed and more than 100 injured, including 65 policemen.

Authorities arrested more than 160 people and slapped a curfew on several regions, including the greater Tunis area, which was shortened on Wednesday by two hours to apply from 22:00 to 04:00.

As artists protested that freedom of expression was being undermined, the government condemned the attack against the exhibition but with Salafists threatening mass action, the gallery was closed nonetheless.

The moderate Islamist party Ennahda (Renaissance), which dominates the government and the national assembly, called on Wednesday for "a peaceful march to defend the revolution and sacred values".

Tarrouche said that the ban also applied to this planned march.

After three days of violence, a joint statement by the leaders of Tunisia's government, constituent assembly and presidency condemned "extremist groups who threaten freedoms," in a thinly veiled reference to the Salafists.

The government is led by Ennahda while the presidency and post of parliament speaker are held by the two parties that came closest to it in October's first post-revolution polls.

The ruling trio also pointed a finger at former members of the ousted Ben Ali regime, who have been accused of instrumentalising Salafist groups to stoke tensions between Islamists and secularists and destabilise the country.

The joint statement cited "the ghosts of the fallen regime trying to sabotage the transition process" at a time when Tunisia is fashioning post-revolution institutions and drafting a new constitution.

"The situation is very unclear. I took a close look at the protests that took place in Carthage on Monday, there were as many fake Salafists as there were real ones," Alaya Allani, an expert on regional Islamist groups, told AFP.

He said the Salafists themselves were divided in two main camps, with one wing seeking to emulate its Egyptian colleagues and join the political fray and the other recruiting thugs to sew chaos.

Read more on:    tunisia  |  north africa

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Get fit on a budget

It’s time to throw the “I can’t afford to exercise” excuse out the window.


Where were you when you last felt alive?

Tips for paddling your first Dusi
Climbing the world’s largest stone arch
Awesome extreme sports people
Watch: 2015 Absa Cape Epic route

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


You may be in the mood to philosophize and socialize and expand your mind on various discussions and group activities. You could...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.