lundi 10 octobre 2011

Things get heated-up in Tunisia

The relative tranquility that has been observed here recently, as the October 23rd election approaches, was shattered by a few incidents.

First off, last Wednesday, four Islamic militants, armed with knives and gas canisters, stormed the Arts and Letters faculty at the University of Sousse and threatened its secretary general. The protesters were in fact looking for the dean but he was away at the time.

The four men had been outraged at a decision to bar access to two students wearing a niqab. This ruling was enforced earlier this year when all religious symbols were banned in school.

To make matters worse, other religious fanatics to the university on Saturday to threaten the secretary some more. Courses have been suspended since Wednesday.

Then, again on Saturday, a group of 200 women participated in a demonstration opposing the wearing of the niqab in front of the Menzah IV cultural center.

Finally, yesterday (Sunday) a wave of violent protests occurred at the Cité Romana in Tunis and in front of the offices of Nessma TV. Protesters, numbering about 300, attacked the television station because of their decision to air the movie Persépolis, a film that criticizes Islam and depicts God in a human form.

Parties unanimously condemned the incidents and even Ennadha (article in French) distanced itself from them in an effort to calm things down. The president of Nessma TV, Nebil Karoui, informed the public that he doesn't intend to bow to the Islamic threats and change the programming of his station.

Also noteworthy is this strange decision (in French) from Délice Danone to end her publicity contract with Nessma TV.

Let's just hope that these incidents are isolated and that the next 13 days occur in a healthier fashion.

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