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    President of the Tunisian Jewish Community to Take Salafist Preacher to Court

    By Kouichi Shirayanagi | Mar 27 2012 Share on Linkedin Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google Share on pinterest Print

    Tags: Avenue Habib Bourguiba , God , hate speech , incitement , Jewish minority in Tunisia ,

    The President of the Tunisian Jewish Community Roger Bismuth

    The President of the Tunisian Jewish Community Roger Bismuth has expressed deep concern over the security of Tunisia’s Jewish Community, and has called on the government to take immediate action against those who incite hatred against others.

    During Sunday’s Salafist demonstration on Avenue Habib Bourguiba, one Salafist preacher shouted “young people rise up, let’s wage a war against the Jews,” to a cheering crowd chanting “God is great.”

    Bismuth announced that he will be taking legal action against the Salafist preacher. “We can’t have this violent speech in our country… it is not the first time this has happened… it is totally unacceptable and I am going to take him to court,” said Bismuth.

    While Bismuth told Tunisia Live he has been unable to meet today with Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali, he paid a visit to the President of the Constituent Assembly Mustapha Ben Jaafar, who strongly condemned the Salafist preacher.

    Mofdi Mossadi, a spokesman for Ben Jaafar, told local radio station Mosaique FM that Ben Jaafar strongly condemned verbal abuse against Tunisia’s Jewish community and that it was critical that hateful rhetoric end.

    During a press conference yesterday, Rached Ghannouchi, the leader of Tunisia’s Islamist political party Ennahda, promised to defend the rights of all of Tunisia’s minority communities. “Tunisia defends the rights of all citizens. We will fight for the rights of all our minorities, including the Jewish minority,” Ghannouchi said.

    According to Tunisian State News agency, TAP, the Ministry of Religious Affairs has also condemned “all calls to fight Jews,” and deemed the incident on Avenue Habib Bouguiba to be an “isolated act.”

    Bismuth reported that many Tunisian Muslims have called him to thank him for speaking out against the Salafist preacher, and have expressed their solidarity with Tunisia’s Jewish community. “If we don’t do something about this now, incidents like this will only get worse,” said Bismuth.

  • By Kouichi Shirayanagi  / 
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  • salafists
  • Mustapha Ben Jaafar
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      Nasri /

      I strongly condemn any statement targeting any minority or majority in this country, and I’m sure that an overwhelming majority of the Tunisian people would agree. The real war we have to wage is a war against the two greatest evils of our time: discrimination and ignorance. The corrupt regimes that ruled this country for decades mastered the art of using these evils in manipulating minds: Discrimination is the shortest and most effective way to train a terrorist, ignorance would be his guidance.

      If these people had known the difference between Judaism and Zionism nothing of this would have happened; if they had known that Chomsky and Finkelstein -who are American Jewish intellectuals- are banned from entering Israel because of their support of the Palestinian cause nothing of this would have happened; if these people hadn’t been discriminated against and thrown in jails without due process of law nothing of this mess would have happened. I’m not justifying but I’m urging every one in this country to take a step back and think of the causes; to treat the illness not the symptoms.

      Unfortunately, many voices expressing their anger about such events are cold-bloodly perpetrating the same evils that led us to this point. I would to quote Chomsky as saying:” Everybody’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s a really easy way: stop participating in it”.

    1. A fellow tunisian /

      I read the articles from these website for a while and this is the first time i am replying to one. And i think i really need to. I have never been so ashamed of being Tunisian. After 23 years of dictatorship these animals gain their freedom, and what is the first thing they do with it? Demand the killing of their fellow Tunisians(yes they are equal to all of us and difference should not divide us but bring us together trough understanding of each other), interrupt public life, try to enforce a sick and barbaric system that does not belong in the 21 century.

      I am starting to wonder if the previous dictators actually where so bad as what is being told about them? Until now i only saw prove that some people obviously cannot live in freedom. I am for freedom of speech without limits but demanding the slaughtering of a another human and especially your fellow Tunisian? There is nothing that could justify this. This only destroys the face of Islam and the face of Tunisia.

      But to get to the point, I hope that the court will rule in favor of those fellow Tunisians who have been treated as second class and who fell victims of these sick barbaric chimps.

      God bless Tunisia and all of its people besides those who only work for their stupid ideology (Not speaking against Islam speaking against sick bastards who happen to be Muslim)!!!

      • Nasri /

        I have just said it my fellow Tunisian: we are perpetrating the same evils. The language you are using can only lead to further tension but I’m not going to blaim you simply because you are no less a victim than those you are cursing. The propaganda machine of the dictators created a kind of permanent trance in the minds of millions.

        I know you are angry for our fellow Jewish Tunisians, and I’m angry for them too, but I’m angry by same proportion for my fellow Salafist Tunisians and I strongly believe that they deserve. Fortunately, the propaganda machine of the dictators failed to control my mind.

        We badely need a serious dialogue with our fellow Salafists and I urge all political factions, Secular and Islamist, to engage in this path because this is the only path that could save our country.

        Instead of resorting to court, which is their right, I urge the Tunisian Jewish community to engage in this path and open a dialogue with the Salafist leaders who showed a distinguished openness and a readiness to discuss. The situation needs wise men and women to be defused.

        My fellow Tunisian, better is to light a candle than to curse darkness.

        • Saladin /

          There’s no compromise with these relics of a time long past. These walking anachronisms are ingrates who did not hesitate to spit on the ideals perpetuated by the revolution and immediately restart their hateful discourse.

          I am also a proponent for free speech, but by that right, try and explain to these Salafis that freedom of speech is not a one-way street, and that if they have the right to preach their out-dated rhetoric, then concepts such as those propagated by the movie Persepolis should also be allowed to see the light of day. (I’m being incredibly sarcastic here in case you can’t tell. You have a better chance of convincing them that 72 virgins are waiting for them in paradise. Oh wait a minute…)

          • Nasri /

            Stereotyping and defamating any faction of our society can never lead to a stable and successful societal model. The lack of communication makes the slightest problem appear as an unsurmountable obstacle and opens the way for lies and prejudices to prevale. Compromise is a sine qua non for suvival in any diversified society and bluntly abiding by ideological lines (both secular and religious) can only lead to disasters.

            Communication is the most effective means for settling conflicts: we have to sit down and talk to our rivals and would be better to involve third parties; this opens new perspectives and builds trust which is the basis for any settlement. Mutual cursing leads only to no where.

            • A fellow tunisian /

              I am sorry nasri, but with some people you can not speak. They lack common sense. And they will always keep lacking common sense.

              I am not corrupted by our previous dictator but i am simply stating that i am not feeling so sorry anymore for the bad treatment these salafist received (only focusing on the salafists). If i would have been put in prison for years and would have been treated as second class citizen, you would think that i of all people would have understanding and respect for all those who are different? Right?

              And do you honestly talk these animals would accept to debate and talk with our fellow Tunisians? You would be a madmen to do that? What if they word to actions and kill these Jewish Tunisians?

              And forget about the whole Jews thing. Lets focus on something else.In Belgium a salafist threw a molotov into a Shia mosque and killed on person with the smoke that came out of that molotov. These people are beast, all of them. They damage the face of Islam and the country we love.

              If you want to try talk with them, talk. I am not stopping you, i believe in the freedom to let everybody do whatever he or she wants as long as it does not hurt others. But do not expect the rest of us to stand behind you because i am sick and tired of these no good animals that want to ruin our just received freedoms.

    2. W. /

      Even though I’m not jewish, as a Tunisian I feel more related to Mr Roger Bismuth than anyone of these salafist morons. To me he is more Tunisian than all of them together. Drag the hate mongers to court.

    3. Maxwell Kpakpo Thompson /

      O God: from whom all Holy desires: all good counsels and all just works do proceed. give unto me the peace which the word cannot give: that my heart may be act to obey in your commandments and also by yours and for you. I being defended from fear of my enemies may pass anytime in rest and quietness through the merit of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

    4. Khaled /

      The problem with your argument is that you use various generic constructs to make apologies for behavior that is inexcusable. These people know the difference between Zionism and Judaism, at least their leaders, who have just from the West do. They also know that we as Tunisians are protective of our fellow non-Muslim citizens. This is our duty as citizens and Muslims (read the letters of prophet Mohamed, ASWS, to the world leaders; it is all there, including protection of Jews and even Zorostanis). They are doing it to terrorize those who don’t follow their particular extremist political ideology (yes, that is what it is), to gain advantage far beyond their number. I am sorry that real Salafists like you, who follow your interpretation of Islam faithfully and peacefully, get associated with these morons. I am not a Salafist, and I have some arguments on some of their approach to Sharia, but the Salafists I know are wonderful, devoted people. The real Salafists are peaceful and humble people who believe in dialog. Unfortunately, unless the real Salafists don’t rise up, confront the bearded thugs, and reclaim their name back, they will forever be tarred by the same brush.
      I don’t know why the hell the government is being so meek confronting these people. We have a fully functioning public security apparatus, we have laws and we have courts and, yes, we have plenty of jails! The police and other security apparatus know who the thugs are and who their leaders are. Are they waiting until people die (already a cleric was killed by some “bearded men” in Tunis) before they make a move. Or do they think that “strong condemnation” will scare away the hooligans or satisfy the public?
      Fellow Tunisian is voicing a sentiment that is becoming common in Tunisia, and we can’t blame him. Tunisians need better economy and security. They have neither, so it is no surprise that some hark to Ben Ali time, when at least their persons and their properties, and their schools were safe.
      There is one, and only one, solution for these people, and that is to apply the law to its full extent.

      • Nasri /

        I have never made apologies for any violent act or any statement inciting hatered and/or violence whatsoever and I’ll never do it neither directly nor through what you called “generic constructs”. Indeed, my point is to condemn offensive and defamatory discourses regardless of where they originate from and to highlight the fact that mutual cursing can never build a nation.Offensive language further strips the Salafist moderate leaders from their power and makes them helpless and unable to control the masses, and I think it’s our duty to help them by stopping our insults.

        I’m not a Salafist too and I do konw wonderful Salafists as you do whom I want to help and I strongly believe that the majority of them are wonderful. Unfortunatly, the psychlogical war waged against them by the media and some political factions is pushing them underground on behalf of the hardliners.

        I do not think it wise to confront an ideology with security forces, indeed we are paying the heavy price of this blunt policy practiced in our country for decades. You can throw people in jail, you can torture them, you can kill them but their ideology will prevale and flourish as a result. The only way to eradicate an extremist ideology is to prove for people who adopt it that it’s wrong. well this can’t be achieved through cursing, nor can it be achieved through repression; it can only be achieved through responsible debate. This is exactly what I call for: Stop the psychological war and engage in a responsible debate.

        • Khaled /

          Again you are making apologies viz. “the psychlogical war waged against them by the media and some political factions is pushing them underground on behalf of the hardliners”. What they are doing is not debate or public relations; they are intimidating and terrorizing peaceful citizens to further their political agenda. We have a functioning government, police force, and law courts; we should apply the law fairly so that this criminal behavior is stopped and people can feel secure expressing their views, doing their business, and praying in their mosques. But for the government to “condemn” them is really a waste of time. Either they have done something wrong, in which case they should answer for it in a court of law, or they have not, in which case the “condemnation” is an interference in their free speech. I did not advocate repression; the key word is LAW.
          The Tunisian people removed a dictator by peaceful means; their only weapon was their sense of indignation. They gained their freedom the hard way; they will not let a bunch of thugs with imported extremist hateful ideology steel their freedom.

          • Nasri /

            This is not an apology this is a sociological fact that we all have to take into account if we are really serious about building a stable society on the contending needs and trends of its components. It must be a suicidal mistake to ignore sociological facts for the only reason that we are not so comfortable about them.

            The Government is working on reconciliation which is much more effective and cost-effective than law. Law is not created to settle societal conflicts, you are burdening this notion with more than it supports. Law along with its enforcement systems are but mechanical tools to deal with minor issues, indeed relying on them to building a societal model is a complete non sense.

            Whom you called “a bunch of thugs” took to the streets shoulder by shoulder with you and I to topple the dictator, hence, by every measure they are as Tunisian as you and I are.

    5. Kouichi Shirayanagi /

      @a fellow Tunisian, Khaled and Nasri

      We at Tunisia Live are always looking for op-eds that are interesting, thought provocative and are on recent news subjects. If you would like to write an op-ed for us please Email contact (@) tunisialive.net

    6. Afif /

      The issue is simple. We have to combat hate and prejudice by all legal means, without losing our unity as Tunisians, but also without losing sight that hateful speech is still protected speech, unless it rises to the level of clear and present danger. Free societies have to tolerate the unwanted speech of parasites sometimes, because as the song says “we are only saving our selves.”
      I am not ashamed that I am a Tunisian. These Salafis who spread hate, incite violence, and dissent among the Tunisian people should be ashamed of themselves to call themselves Muslims. They have no where to go. We Tunisians know better. I disagree with the debate concerning the difference between Judaism and Zionism, because the term Zionism is defined differently depending on which dictionary you read. That in itself is not productive and this labeling in my opinion reflects prejudice and one side of the story. I am willing to deal with anyone who does not encourage hate, violence, and prejudice. We need to seek out what unites us instead of divides us as human beings.
      Peace, Shalom, Wassalam

      • Canadianlady /

        This reminds me of the, “Trayvon Martin,” case that’s currently raging inside the U.S., where hate rhetoric that calls for the capture, dead or alive, of a man who hasn’t been charged with anything, is going unpunished. It appears as though the U.S. President benefits more by remaining silent than by condemning it. Tunisians are fortunate to have a sensible government.

    7. Franklin /

      I am no longer positive where you’re getting your info, but good topic. I must spend some time studying more or understanding more. Thanks for excellent info I used to be on the lookout for this info for my mission.

    8. Carminella /

      I was headed over here to post this!”40 bredaed men chanting slogans like ‘There is no God but Allah.’ After rallying Muslim residents, they opened fire”So sick. After the Muslims guarding the churches after the Alexandria bombing, and the Copts surrounding the Muslims during the demonstrations, I have to believe that the people of Cairo, if nobody else, know exactly who is behind this.Thx Aan


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