Tunisian Salafists Clash with Police Over Art Exhibit
According to The Guardian hundreds of Tunisian Salafists rioted overnight, throwing petrol bombs at police and burning tires. The rioters are still enraged at an art exhibit in La Marsa that they believed was insulting to Islam. The number of Salafism adherents in Tunisia is estimated to be low, but in recent months they have staged several attacks directed at certain university departments, liquor stores, and other symbols of secularism, even burning down a courthouse in Tunis. The piece of art from the festival last week that apparently most angered the mobs was a piece that spelled out the name of God using insects.
The ruling party Ennahda has proposed a law limiting freedom of expression to that which does not insult “the sacred,” and calling for the prosecution of those who go beyond the boundaries of religious belief and custom. The party did, however, admonish Tunisians to act within the law when responding to provocations against Islam.
After the incidents, local responses in La Marsa were varied, ranging from panic to indifference. One local asserted that “Tunisia is okay. There are no big problems of terrorism. The issue is economic… We will succeed because we do not have major problems.”