News / Africa

Fears Grow of Islamic Extremism in Tunisia

Fears Grow of Islamic Extremism in Tunisiai
X
February 18, 2013 11:29 PM
Tunisian opposition groups continue to blame the assassination of party leader Chokri Belaid on extremist Muslims known as Salafists. They accuse the ruling Ennahda party of encouraging religious violence - a charge the government denies. Henry Ridgwell looks at the growing fear among moderate and secular Tunisians that extremism is on the rise.

Fears Grow of Islamic Extremism in Tunisia

Henry Ridgwell
Tunisian opposition groups continue to blame the assassination of party leader Chokri Belaid on extremist Muslims known as Salafists. They accuse the ruling Ennahda party of encouraging religious violence - a charge the government denies. But no matter who might be behind Belaid’s death, there is growing fear among moderate and secular Tunisians that extremism is on the rise.

Worshippers prayed and listened intently to the Friday's sermon among the ancient surrounds of the Al-Zaytuna mosque in Tunis last week.

In a traditionally secular country, Tunisia's mosques are at the heart of a debate over the extent of extreme religion in society.

Opposition groups blame Islamic extremists for the February 6 killing of party leader Chokri Belaid.

Organizations known as the Leagues for the Protection of the Revolution are accused of carrying out an agenda of religious violence - attacking art galleries and harassing women who refuse to wear Islamic dress.

Many critics claim they are backed by the ruling Ennahda party.

It’s a charge Minister for Religious Affairs Laroussi Mizouri strongly denies.

Mizouri says the government condemns violence and any calls for violence. The vast majority of mosques in Tunisia are calling for unity, he says, as well as tolerance and the rejection of all kinds of discrimination and violence.  

But opposition groups point to videos posted on YouTube painting a different picture. One shows a preacher in the southern city of Zarzis calling for the head of Belaid. It was uploaded the day he was killed but its authenticity cannot be independently verified.

Ali Zeddini of the Tunisian League for the Defense of Human Rights blames extremism on foreign influences.

Zeddini says Tunisians do not have a tradition of religious extremism. So the question of religion in Tunisia, he says, has never come up before. Zeddini says Tunisian people are a kind people, moderate, Mediterranean, and with a Malachite Islam which is tolerant and a long way from extremism.

Among the flags at a pro-Ennahda rally in Tunis Saturday were the distinctive black and white banners of the ultra-orthodox Salafists.

But rally organizer Bechir Khalfi says Ennahda is a tolerant party.

He says Tunisians want to build tomorrow's Tunisia together and do not want to exclude anyone, not the extreme left nor the extreme right. He says people want to build a Tunisia for all.

But critics of the government say they fear for their lives. The studios of TV channel El Hiwar El Tounsi were vandalized last year and equipment stolen. Company president and presenter Taher Ben Hassine, a well-known critic of Ennahda, says he fears he will meet the same fate as Belaid.

Hassine says he sent his wife and daughter to live in France because he knows extremists want to do something against him. He says he does not know when it will happen but has no doubt extremists want to harm him.

Tunisia's government says episodes of violence are symptomatic of a country in transition. Critics say that Islamic extremists are attempting to silence the opposition through intimidation and murder.

You May Like

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukraine PM Warns Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: The Hunter from: Cameroon
February 19, 2013 6:26 AM
The West must go back to the old tactics:install puppets in N.Africa and the M.East to stop the proliferation of jihadism and terrorism.

In Response

by: Phelix Miguta from: Kenya
February 19, 2013 3:58 PM
West Africa is the new theater for contest between the Western civilization and Islamic civilization. Will the disorganization in West Africa move snowball across the Sahara and merge with the chaos in Somalia so as to form the historic Islam caliphate?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid