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Tunisian Secularists Fight Back

Thanks to weavehole for the link

With Islamic fundamentalists flexing their muscles, secularists speak up

Fearing the gradual religious takeover of a country widely considered the most progressive in the Arab world, liberal and secular Tunisians have begun asserting their country's freedom of faith.

At least 1,000 Tunisians demonstrated in the capital Tunis on Thursday to voice their support for Tunisia's secular character which they feel is now under threat. They waved banners reading "I am free and Tunisia for all,” “Extremism out” and "A modern, independent Tunisia."

Many Tunisians fear the growing assertiveness of militant Islam following a June 26 attack on a Tunis cinema which showed a film advocating secularism. A gang of some 100 bearded men shouting "God it great" stormed Cinema Afrique, smashing windows and attacking the audience of the film Neither Allah, nor Master by Tunisian-French director Nadia El-Fani, a known critic of Islamization.

"A large part of Tunisian society feels it may lose many of its liberties," Rashid Khashana, a former editor in chief of Al-Mawkif, an opposition newspaper, told The Media Line. He said that the attack on the cinema was perpetrated by Tunisian Salafis, or Islamic fundamentalists, whose leader Saif Allah Bin Hussein was trained in Afghanistan and shared the ideology of Al-Qa’ida.

Khashana said that Tunisia has experienced a surge of Islamism since a popular revolution ousted President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January. Women wearing bikinis at the beach have been harassed, while extremists in southern Tunisia expelled musicians coming to entertain Libyan refugees in May on the grounds that music was against Islamic law.
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TAGGED: ISLAM, SECULARISM


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