Confrontation Between Conservatives and Liberals in Tunisian university
Violence erupted at Manouba University after a salafi member replaced the Tunisian flag with a black banner, highlighting the increase of tensions between the liberals and the conservatives in Tunisia. Martine Gozlan, a journalist, blamed (Fr) the Ministry of High Education, Moncef Ben Salem, for not lending support to the Dean of the University, Habib Kazdaghli, after experiencing violence on campus and facing threats of being stabbed by the radical salafis. “The Dean hasn’t done what he should have done to resolve peacefully the issues and he has political ulterior motive,” said Ben Salem.
Habib Mellakh, professor at Manouba University, warned (Fr) about the rise of violence and the disturbance from the salafi movement on the campus. Mellakh claimed that radicals harassed two professors. Last week, following the clash between two students claiming the right to wear the niqab and the Dean, Salafis members came to support the two students and stood in front of the building of the Dean. One of the radical member through a stone though the window and break it, of the Dean’s office. According to Mellakh, insecurity raised on concern the campus that the disturbances may call the students to lose their semester.
In an interview with BBC, Said Ferjani a representative from the ruling Ennahda party, said that “there were great distortions” regarding the perception of the tensions in Manouba university. Ferjani asserted, “Among the 300000 people who want to take these exams, about 60 girls have chosen to wear the burqa.” He declared that Ennahda doesn’t require the niqab but “respects and does not interfere in the choice of the clothing of any women.” The BBC journalist Stephen Sackur asked if Ennahda was able to deal with the salafis, as they were accused of “taking over government buildings, punishing people drinking alcohol,” when the Tunisians “believe that the government did nothing to stop them. ” Ferjani denied these accusations and responded saying that the government “will not allow any body, or sections, to impose a law whether it is the Sharia’a or non-Sharia’a. It is challenging the sovereignty of the state.” Ferjani called infringing on the rights of women that chose to wear the niqab discrimination and stated that the government will “protect women who decide to wear the veil or the bikini” and added that the government was “committed to protect both of their lifestyles.”
Tunisian President, Moncef Marzouki, stated “it will not be tolerated to anyone to impose his opinion by using violence, to call someone miscreant and to harm any Tunisians citizens because of its ideological and political choices.” He added that the government “will not accept anymore threat on students and professors” and any disturbances that “hinders the university.”