Tensions are running high in Jendouba, a city located in the Northwest of Tunisia, after violent confrontations between the police and a group of men, described by witnesses as salafists.
The troubles began on Monday at the opening of a branch of the mobile operator “Orange,” where two women promoting the opening of the store were reportedly assaulted by a group of men. According to Achref, a resident of Jendouba who witnessed the incident, “the salafists were angry at the women, who were wearing skirts, because they were inappropriate”. He said that the police were called to intervene and were able to resolve the incident peacefully.
However a second confrontation occurred yesterday at the district office of Jendouba, where a group of salafists reportedly asked female workers to cover their hair with headscarves. The local police again had to intervene, leading to clashes in which a police car was damaged. According to the online paper Businessnews, the salafists pulled knives on the police, wounding two officers. However Tunisia Live could not independently confirm this information.
As the disturbance continued, the group of people implicated in the violence barricaded themselves inside one of the local mosques, where a tense standoff with police ensued. By the time police withdrew, several hours later, four arrests had been made.
According to Achref, some salafists have recently been trying to impose their ideas on the people of Jendouba. “For the last month, whenever couples are walking alone in the street they would go to them and tell them not to walk alone, or would ask the women to change their outfits,” he said.
However Walid, another eyewitness, claimed that the people responsible for this incident were not salafists, but were individuals seeking to harm the reputation of Islamists in Tunisia. “These men calling themselves salafists are not true Muslims. Attacking women is not what real Muslims do. Islam is a peaceful religion that calls for peace and tolerance. These people want to cause disorder in the country and create conflicts between Tunisians,” he said.
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