“Salafists” Interrupt Friday Prayer at Grand Mosque in Tunis Suburb

By Roua Seghaier | Jan 11 2013 Share on Linkedin Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google Share on pinterest Print

Tags: Imam ,Ministry of Religious Affairs ,mosque ,Salafist

Worshippers during the Friday prayer in downtown Tunis in June 2012 (Photo credit: Rabii Kalboussi)

A group of men, described as “followers of the Salafist current,” interrupted today’s Friday prayer at the Grand Mosque of Denden in Tunis’ southern suburbs.

Worshipers saw their Friday prayer prematurely ended when the intruders in question entered the mosque, interrupting the lecture being given by Imam Ghofran Hsaini. The attendees of the Friday prayer were subject to physical aggression, and three-quarters of those present were forced to leave the mosque, recounted the Imam and Ismail Shili, the mosque’s muezzin, to Tunisia Live. Only a small number of worshipers stayed to pray under the lead of the “Salafists,” they said.

Hsaini, only 28 years old, is a PhD student in religious studies and holds a master’s degree in the memorization and recitation of the Holy Koran. The imam describes his speech as moderate and scholarly, denouncing all rumors of having any political affiliation.

“I do not serve political purposes, and I do not belong to any party,” Hsaini asserted.

The intruders in question have previously issued threats to the imam.  Nevertheless, the motives of the aggressors were not necessarily personal, but rather looked to take ideological control over the mosque, the imam said.

“[This group] uses expiatory speech to fuel violence for political purposes that have nothing to do with following the Prophet’s way of life,” Hsaini explained. He mentioned that the “Salafists” emphasize the necessity of Jihad in the ongoing Syrian conflict.

According to the Imam, the mosque at Denden was not the only one targeted today. The Omar Ibn Khattab and Fattouma Bourguiba mosques in the Bardo suburb of Tunis experienced similar encroachment, he claimed.

Sadok Arfaoui, councelor to the ministry of religious affairs, only confirmed the Denden attack and said that police reinforcements were sent to the mosque and that authorities are looking for the perpetrators.

“There will undoubtedly be judicial consequences,” Arfaoui said.

The Ministry of Religious Affairs conducts a long, thorough process to assign imams to mosques, and since the revolution, some people have arbitrarily taken over a few mosques without ministerial sanction, explained Najet Hammami, press attaché at the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

Hsaini suspects that today’s incident was connected to a previous bout of unrest in the nearby neighborhood of Douar Hicher where security agents clashed with described members of the Salafist movement. Arfaoui dismissed such a connection, pointing to previous attempts in recent months by Salafist groups to take over mosques across the country.

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    so where were the police …absent as usual….while the thugs take over…they dont have much respect for thier own religion to interrupt the prayers….but who says these people are Muslims

  1. I’ve talked about this before, and i’ll repeat it again.
    These salafists are going to mean the very end many people died for during the revolution. They should be stopped. I understand now with this democracy going on in Tunisia, this can’t happen and I’m aware of the fact that it shouldn’t. Freedom of speech is very different.

    I am positive however that these ‘salafist movements’ and not individual ‘salafists’ abuse this freedom by trying to take away the right of others to preach whatever they want and take advantage of the (sometimes) political instability in Tunisia.
    They are free to preach and believe whatever they want, they are not however free to tell others what or what not to do. If they are not stopped, they will destroy the very ‘meaning’ of the beginning of the arabic spring.

    Omar Hamouda
    For comments;


    • They are on the best way to do it! Wherever in the world salafists make problems. And they grow verry fast. In Germany it is the fastest growing sect in Islam and our politicians are blind.

  2. Salafist them self are ignorant brain washed and paid by the outsiders to accuse Islam for ALL the wars in Arab countries and all governments knows this strategies and those salafist will provoque a worst revolution