28 January 2012 3:06 pm | | 7


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Protesters today in downtown Tunis calling an end to extremism

Close to 6,000 demonstrators chanted slogans like “No to violence” and  ”No to extremism” at a march taking place in downtown Tunis today, January 28th, 2012. A number of associations, political parties, unions, and civil society members participated in the march calling for freedom of expression. Other slogans such as “No niqab, no to salafism” and “Universities are free, extremism out,” were also chanted.

According to a press release announcing the march, protesters condemn violent attacks – whether verbal or physical – on citizens, including national figures, politicians, activists, and media figures. They also condemn the recurrence of violence in different parts of Tunisia and the escalation in the prevalence of fundamentalist rhetoric, including those issued by some members of the National Constituent Assembly. The demonstrators also called for the interim government to take necessary measures to stop the spread of this phenomenon, which could derail the transition to democracy in Tunisia and threaten the gains made by the revolution.

A number of associations were present including Tolerance Tunisia and Citizens Front for Democracy (FCD). Mourad Belaid, co-founder of FCD, stated that he participated in the march because he is against all types of  fundamentalism and extremism.

Abed Karim Alagui, a university professor, said that there are many dangerous violations taking place, including the Manouba University salafist protests and the violent attacks on professors and journalists. “Our freedom is being violated. I am for dialogue, and Tunisia is for all Tunisians.”

Hamadi Redissi, a political science professor, was also present at the march. Redissi was a victim of a salafist attack last Monday outside of a courthouse where Tunisian TV executive Nabil Karoui was to be tried for blasphemy and disturbing public order. “We must support freedom and defend our rights,” he added.

Oppositional political parties participated in the march, including the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), Afek Tounes, and Republican Party. The leader of (PDP), Nejib Chebbi, as well as Maya Jeribi were there. Mohamed Naseur Bjewi, a PDP member, participated in the march calling for freedom of expression, “I am against any sort of violence or extremism in our country,” he asserted. “The government needs to take a stand and find a solution to this,” he added.

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Comments (7)

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  1. Afif says:

    You can condemn anyone until the sun rises. The issue is quite simple. If anyone violates a valid law, they should be held accountable and be prosecuted. Ennahda leaders spent years in solitary confinement to fight against the old regime, and I think that your use of “coward” is soooooo historically incorrect. The salafists have the right to express their views, no matter how repugnant we find them, but they do not have the right to impose them by intimidation or violence.

    • Ferid says:

      With all do respect, Afif, criticizing Ennahda, CPR and Ettakatol is not the same thing as supporting the old regime and Ben Ali.

      Today, Ennahda is the ruling party in Tunisia. Therefore it is our responsibility as democrats to scrutinize and criticize their actions so that Ennahda never transforms into a dictatorship of the past.

      If salafism emerges as a violent, intimidating force in Tunisia then Ennahda should be held responsibility for not preventing this.

      • Afif says:

        I do not want Tunisia to be turned into a police state again, but the rule of law should be respected and enforced on all. That is what I expect from the current goverment.

  2. NO thanks says:

    Francophone secular god in heat. They are the REAL extremists!

  3. Afif says:

    An anti-violence, anti-extremism demonstration serves as a good reminder to those who act otherwise that Tunisians will always be vigilant to protect Tunisia from thugs. However, I find it interesting that some of the opposition that was in bed with Ben Ali during his regime are also catching a free ride on these popular expressions and are quick to take a jab at the current goverment that beat them during the election. The opposition has a history of opportunisim and it never fails to show its true color at every event.

    • Ferid says:

      Of course the opposition is marching against extremism when the three ruling parties are dead silent on the matter. Ennahda is too coward to condemn anything. Opportunism or not, somebody has to march!

  4. The Watchtower says:

    It’s first of all a march for Freedom!!!

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