The Court of First Instance in Tunis decided yesterday, January 21, to allow the Association of International Studies to resume its activities in the cultural space of Khaldounia, stated Fathi El Khemiri, an attorney involved in the case.
The decision by the court did not please the imams of Zitouna mosque among whom is Houcine Laabidi, who broke into Khaldounia over two weeks ago and expelled those present before changing the locks of the building that he declared property of Zitouna.
In an interview with Tunisia Live, Laabidi asserted that Khaldounia is a space to be used to educate people according to Zitouna’s doctrines and not dedicated to propagate political issues.
“The fact of allowing associations to work in Khaldounia is allowing the space to become a political space instead of an educational one,” argued Laabidi.
The imam stated his belief that Zitouna is targeted by foreign influences that seek to erradicate the Islamic identity of the country so that Muslims remain in a state of subordination to the Western world.
“The Zitouna way of education is targeted because it represents a threat to foreign agendas,” said Laabidi without specifying which ones exactly.
The court’s decision followed Laabidi’s accusation made against Fathi Guesmi, president of the Association of International Studies, of stealing over 7,000 books.
The Zitouna mosque used to own property outside the mosque itself. However, since independence from French colonialism in 1956, all such properties were regarded as state belongings and entrusted to the Ministry of Religious Affairs. Following the January 14 revolution, the question of ownership over such real estate emerged to the surface again.