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    Salafist Security Patrols Divide Tunisians

    By Amira Masrour | Feb 13 2013 Share on Linkedin Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google Share on pinterest Print

    Tags: Ansar el-Sharia , Ennahdha , main-featured , main-national-featured , Salafist ,

    An alleged Salafist patrol according to footage from Attounissia TV

    During the fallout from the assassination of opposition leader Chokri Belaid last Wednesday, many businesses and offices closed and took extra precautions to protect against vandalism and looting. Yet in the Ibn Khaldoun suburb of Tunis, a group of citizens gathered Friday to protect the neighborhood’s Magasin Général.

    The young men, mostly Salafist Muslims, set up a tent outside and guarded the shop throughout the night.

    Mohamed Yassine Ghaba, a teenager from the area, said he was “astonished” to see the Salafists, whom he assumed were violent people, engaged in this effort. Even though he does not consider himself to be religious, Ghaba decided to join them, guarding the store until 1 a.m. and sharing water and cakes with the rest of the group.

    The activation of such Salafist neighborhood patrols after Belaid’s assassination has sparked debate among Tunisians.

    Due to a perceived lack of security, patrols sprang up in areas such as Tunis’ suburbs, Sousse, Hammamet, Sfax, and Bizerte. Some media reports have claimed these groups conducted their patrols in coordination with Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia and the Leagues for the Protection of the Revolution.

    “It is our responsibility to protect our brothers’ lives and properties,” said Orwa Abdelhalim, a young Salafist man who participated in patrols in Bizerte. “Protecting others is a good deed in order to get closer to god.”

    He explained that the initiative he joined in Bizerte started spontaneously when three women called one of his friends asking for help. They were detained in the local Ennahdha bureau by unknown people throwing stones and blaming them for Belaid’s assassination.

    Salafist groups also worked with security forces to put out a fire in a women’s dormitory in Ettadhamon town, another suburb in Tunis, reported Attounissia TV. According to the same TV show, a Salafist group in Sousse saved a girl from being robbed by a criminal with a machete.

    Some police do not welcome the initiatives of these Salafists.

    Salah Edhaoui, a deputy chief of police in the Omrane Supérieure suburb of Tunis, called such efforts “parallel security” and claimed that they tarnished the image of official security institutions in Tunisia.

    “If such behavior is repeated, people will think that Salafist groups will take the place of policemen, which is harmful to the public image of security institutions as well as to the image of the state’s institutions,”  said Edhaoui, adding that he hoped such patrols would not occur again in the future.

    Iskander Boughanmi, an imam in Bizerte, challenged Edhaoui’s point of view, saying that neighborhood committees were activated spontaneously and were not organized to take the place of policemen.

    Yamina Zoghlami, a National Constituent Assembly member affiliated with Ennahdha, said she welcomed Salafist patrols and perceived their deeds as acts of patriotism.

    But a representative of opposition party Nidaa Tounes severely condemned what he called a parallel security system in Tunisia.

    “Salafist patrols are backward and unlawful practices. It is the responsibility of public powers to enforce laws on these Salafist groups and arrest them,” said Ridha Belhaj, Nidaa Tounes’ spokesperson. “The activation of neighborhood committees is a crime that should be punished.”

    Minister of Interior Ali Laarayedh denied the existence of a coordinated Salafist security system and said an investigation into the patrols would be opened, according to Tuesday’s interview with Wataniya TV channel.

  • By Amira Masrour  / 
  • Topics

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    Comments

    1. DIana /

      So what happens when these groups start deciding what length skirt a girl should wear, or whether couples can walk hand in hand, etc etc etc.

    2. Tunisian /

      First off, a small quick message to the author of the article, god is written God, not god. I’m sure that the interviewee meant God not some random idol. It’s the same God, Muslims and Christians believe in. I don’t want to question the credibility of the author, this could either intentional or spontaneous. Either ways, every testimony should be reported with unconditional loyalty. And second, I’d like to tell Diana that these groups have no intentions of terrorizing people, our religion is the message of mercy not terror. They do not go around and tell people what to wear or how to live. Bare in mind that Islamic laws, the laws that inspire what you like to call “salafists” -This term is only used to divide the unity of Muslims because in nature all Muslims are salafists and I can give you a clear definition of that term just to make ideas clear if you want- can only apply to Muslims within a Muslim country with an Islamic constitution which not the case in Tunisia, yet the police would do, not them. Now if you live in the capital city of Tunis or in other major cities and you’d see the very absence of law enforcement patrols once in a while, the least thing you can say about these guys is that they are heroes. This article might cited several occurring within the last week but I can tell you about tens of other incidents (I live in Tunis) where salafists intervention was of out a good outcome and of a good intention. The average Tunisian praises them for protecting us. Nevertheless, there are still people, who happen to be powerful, and with unmatched want to distort the image of these young men and Islam in general.

        • Tunisian /

          People must understand that these dead people ‘saints’ aren’t going to give people ‘blessings’. Yet, this act of violence or destruction is completely unacceptable.

          • Skander /

            Why should they understand dead saints don’t give blessings. Praying and holding a Quran doesn’t give blessings either. However I’m sure you’re not going to start telling people to stop praying or holding Quran’s will you? Personally, I don’t care about peoples absurd superstitions. If the Muslims were to leave religion out of politics and have laws based on logic and not a book that thinks that two of every kind of animal was able to fit in boat. Unfortunately, the Muslims want to put their BS on everyone by force, so I will say that they teaching nothing but BS. The old people praying to dead people don’t bother me as much as the Saudi paid imams brainwashing Tunisian youth.

            • Tunisian /

              Ahhh *sighs*. I give up. Your brain cells are clogged with Islamophobia. I don’t want to question your faith, I leave that to you. Last remark, I have my take my take on the Saudis too. They have done bad things. Yet old people praying to dead people, I mean… it’s retarded.

      • Skander /

        To claim that Islam is the religion of mercy and not terror you have to be a true moron and never watched the news. The fact is that most Islamic movements of today are terror based. Sudanese Islamic government used genocide as their weapon of choice. Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan are extremely violent and have no problem shooting a bus full of children because a 14 year old girl in the fact because she says girls should go to school. Iranian government used an extremely violent crackdown on their citizens who sought reform, in Mali and Yemen, Al-Qaeda allies are using violence and terror to try to get footholds in those countries. Iraqi Muslims are non-stop killing each other over political dominance of the country. Islamic groups are extremely violent which Muslim liars are saying they are the exceptions, but to me it seems that good Muslims are an exception and the violent terror ones are the rule. One thing we do agree with is that there is no Salafist Muslim or normal Muslim. There are only true Muslims, the brainwashed murdering type, and the ignorant Muslim those who consider themselves moderate while ignoring most of the laws of Quran. As for Muslims being good by having patrols or whatnot, these are simply exercises that they hope to increase their numbers and popularity. Soon once they believe their numbers are big enough and strong enough they would go out and start trying to take control of the government like they do in all the other countries. One may ask is why is there so much violence with Muslims. It’s because the Quran is a very violent book that repeats over and over again how one must fight infidels 9.29. Talks how much God hates everyone but Muslims, (which you must be a retard to believe) Non-Muslims go to Hell, (again gotta be a retard to believe). Well a religion that says the world is flat, sun goes around the Earth, and stars are missiles to shoot devils one would think people would leave this religion in droves. But people believe simply because it tells them they will not die. “Moderate” Muslims have a choice. Continue being ignorant and let the extremist win the country, or reject Islam so once and for all the extremists can go back to their hole. Belief of the fairy tale is what gives them their power, when people stop believing, the extremists will lose all their power.

        • Tunisian /

          I don’t know we had Tunisians of your kind. The entertaining kind. LOL.
          Now, I must tell, with all due respect, and don’t be offended as I try to put this as nicely as I can.

          Your brain is completely washed.

          Why do you bash on a Holy book that you seem very ignorant about? Do you know what you are talking about? Have you read it? Oh, excuse me, I think you didn’t and even if you did, little is the time you had spend trying to study it because I can guarantee that no one is to understand the Quran without aid. Muslim scholars have written in attempt to explain the people what this book is about many books. You should read more. Yet, in your shollow argument, you merely scratch any surfaces. Saying that the Quran literally and utterly encourages killing Non-Muslims in plain Arabic without any restrictions in any time anywhere as that’s way you’re trying to put is completely false. Take my word for it. A violent religion wouldn’t have gotten 1.5 billion followers unless of that 1.5 billion is a buncha of ignorant violent blood thirsty humans. Now It is very sad how you seek the truth from mass media, especially western mass media which target you with what they want you to know not what you need to know.

          • mark /

            The Ayatollah Khomeini, who dedicated his entire life to studying Islam, said that non-Muslims rank somewhere between “feces” and the “sweat of a camel that has consumed impure food.” Small wonder. The Quran dehumanizes non-Muslims, describing them as “animals” and beasts:

            Those who disbelieve from among the People of the Book and among the Polytheists, will be in Hell-Fire, to dwell therein (for aye). They are the worst of creatures. (98:6)

            Surely the vilest of animals in Allah’s sight are those who disbelieve, then they would not believe. (8:55)

            Verse 7:176 compares unbelievers to “panting dogs” with regard to their idiocy and worthlessness. Verse 7:179 says they are like “cattle” only worse.

            Verse 5:60 even says that Allah transformed Jews of the past into apes and pigs. This is echoed by verses 7:166 and 2:65.

            A hadith (Bukhari 54:524) says that Muhammad believed rats to be “mutated Jews” (also confirmed by Sahih Muslim 7135 and 7136).

            Verses 46:29-35 even say that unbelieving men are worse than the demons who believe in Muhammad.

            Verse 9:123 – “Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you.”

            It should be clear that this verse commands Muslims to wage war on all non-Muslims around them. Beheading was practiced by the Prophet Muhammad himself during the 7th century period of Islam and by the most Islamic rulers thereafter.
            Islam and Dhimmitude: Where Civilizations Collide is a book by historian and scholar of Islamic culture Bat Ye’or. “The ideology of jihad was formulated by Muslim theologians from the eighth century onward. It separates humanity into two hostile blocks — the community of Muslims, and the infidels. Allah commands the Muslims to conquer the whole world in order to apply Koranic laws. They have to wage a perpetual war against the infidels who refuse to submit.

            Sounds pretty hateful to me. About 68% of the Koran is about non believers…….says a lot also. Now much can be put down to interpretation but however one chooses to look at it….It does not encourage Muslims to play in the sand box with others unless they (others) are dominated.

            Its these doctrines the Salifast get their excuses to be nasty from.

            • Skander /

              “Tunisian” is a liar how knows that Islam is violent, but plays the ignorant card. The way these scumbags will try to excuse these evil verses is to say they are misunderstood, taken out of context, badly translated, and only true Muslims can understand the Quran. Obviously to anyone who isn’t an idiot that is hogwash. He said “No one can read the Quran without aid” I bet he doesn’t know how stupid that makes him sound. Aid from who? A religious scholar? Like those who work provide the philosophy of the Taliban or Saudi laws? I read the Quran, and it’s a very simple book written by very primitive people. The fairy tales are written in a version even worse than the Bible’s. The idea that if anyone who reads a book and see’s it negatively misunderstood it is retarded. The big problem is expectation with the Quran. I expect something to be written by God to be of very high quality. It should not even have any hint of stupidity. For example in 67.5 when it talks about using stars as missiles that is not something I would expect a creator of the universe to say. Because stars are not missiles and they do not shoot devils. Muslims on the other hand give the Quran such a low standard that it can say anything and it won’t shake their faith. An example is one time an ignorant “moderate” Muslim responded to one of my posts that Quran does not say Allah spread the Earth like a carpet. The reason she said that because she did not know the verse, and because she thought it was not in the Quran understood the verse to be retarded. however once I showed her the verses, one would expect a rational mind to say, “Hey, I thought that verse was retarded when I thought it was not Quran, verse still retarded, therefore Quran has a retarded verse.” But instead, they think get into double think mode and pretend nothing is wrong with the verse. The reason Muslims do this is because as all mammals, we don’t like death too much and try to avoid it at all costs. Our primitive ancestors who died before the age of 30 usually from something not natural probably believed you would live forever until you get eaten by a tiger or start growing black spots caused by a cut. However with civilization and people started getting older and a history being developed they start realizing death is inevitable therefore birth of religion has begun. A very strong survival mechanic comes into play due to the fact we know we will die, and believing we will live forever satisfies the mechanism of avoiding death. That is why religion is so prevalent all around the world no matter how absurd they are. I am hoping though that Tunisians understand the consequence of this fake comfort, as all things that come to and end eventually and you can let the country destroyed so you can live in fantasy or accept reality and destroy the fantasy that has destroyed so many countries already. (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, major civil war in Algeria etc.) End the lie today.

      • Omar Hamouda /

        Could you calm the hell down ‘Tunisian’ ? It’s just a word. Nothing more.
        In fact, I’m not even going to bother trying to express my point of view on salafists and your ideology, since you guys are unfortunately too narrow minded to understand basic logic.

    3. Patrick Batchelder /

      “Salafist patrols are backward and unlawful practices. It is the responsibility of public powers to enforce laws on these Salafist groups and arrest them,” said Ridha Belhaj, Nidaa Tounes’ spokesperson. “The activation of neighborhood committees is a crime that should be punished.”

      This is how African-Americans were killed by hanging. Groups like the Klu Klux Klan decided what was law and they killed people. This can happen anywhere. Random civilian “patrols” should be stopped by the police immediately as they WILL get out of control and innocent people will be hurt badly.

      • mark /

        Good point but the KKK were/are all about superior race. Although what they did was based on fear of the black man etc. The police and authorities were also on board and often the leaders of local clans. In a way though that is true in Tunisia because the government is also behind the Salifast people not because of colour but because of fundamentalism. The non Salifast people should be holding this government to account and before the numbers grow out of proportion and civil war ensues.

        The development of enclaves that need to be protected is surely illegal and should not be tolerated for the good of the country and the foreign investment etc., it wishes to attract. Saudi, Qatar etc have long detested Tunisia and its moderate lifestyle. So now they see an opening through money and infiltration to finally destroy the lifestyle many Tunisians crave. I doubt if many of the ‘new’ Salifast’ people are even Tunisian. Regardless those people who are attracted to them because of a myriad of reasons need to look ahead and see where this ends…cos its not good. Totally perplexed why they have a supposed leader who sat in comfort in the UK while his so called compatriots stayed and fought in what ever way they could…..When they completed the filthy work over he comes with his secret plans to over take the people with his nasty Salifast ways.

    4. david /

      I wish some of you would tone down your insults. We cannot have intelligent conversation while throwing around words like “moron” and “retard.” I’m not going to consider seriously the message of someone who, as an introduction, calls me a moron.

      I find it ironic that the security forces are upset about the ‘salafist’ security. If they were doing their job we wouldn’t need parallel, or private security.

      Key to all Tunisia’s troubles is the blame game. So many people are blaming groups, and the groups deny it. Fact; there are significant numbers of people who look like those people commonly referred to as salafists, menacing people for the way they dress, for tolerating alcohol, for not adhering to Ramadan, etc, so ‘Tunisian’s’ claim to the contrary seems a bit hollow. Ben Ali supporters are another common scapegoat. The secularists, Ennahda, and al-sharia al-Islam all blame Ben Ali when things go awry.

      All this intolerant rage does not make sense to me. If God is all powerful, and set to judge each of us upon death, why do believers get so upset? God will take care of all the miscreants, blasphemers and hypocrites. God gave all of us free will, some of you want to take that away. Shame.

      I hear a lot about secular Islam, and moderate Islam. But I have a hard time finding any scholars on the subject. I understand cultural Islam, its like non-Christians celebrating Christmas. So ‘Tunisian,’ will you please make the scriptural case for the God of ‘mercy,’ and not terror. I hear a lot of “death to the infidel.” Sounds like terror to me.

    5. Andrei /

      It looks like all the media has dropped any prteext of professional journalism.I’ve blogged twice about how the propaganda organs have been going all out to keep Obama from being held to account for his disastrous Middle East policies, which could not have gone much worse were this his intentions. Of particular note, in the manner of France 24 which you’ve provide here, is the press’ absolute certainty of the cause of the unrest, murder and mayhem “sparked by the US-produced ‘Innocence of Muslims’ film.”Whatever happened to the copy book rule that in a less blatantly partisan era would have demanded they publish it as “allegedly sparked” in every major publication — except perhaps the Guardian?These are not journalistic accountings; they are the noxious effluent of hacks.

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