Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia responded yesterday to the government’s declarations this week calling it is a terrorist organization with links to al-Qaeda.
The statement did not directly respond to the accusations.
“They consider us terrorists, but now we are even more dedicated to defending this religion,” the group said in a release posted last night on its Facebook page.
On Thursday, the Ministry of Interior accused several Ansar al-Sharia members of involvement in the assassination of two politicians, Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi, and of violence near Chaambi mountain in western Tunisia, including the killing of eight soldiers in a July ambush.
The ministry also alleged that the group has ties to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
“Anyone funding, helping, or belonging to Ansar al-Sharia will be criminalized,” according to Minister of Interior Lotfi Ben Jeddou.
Ansar al-Sharia’s response did not mention any of these specifics.
“The fact that political parties are turned against [Islam] only makes us stronger,” the statement said.
The government banned the group and its activities in May.
The group thanked its supporters for rejecting the government’s allegations.
“Ansar al-Sharia are all brothers. We praise those who believe and support the true faith,” the statement said.
“We salute our religious leaders who refused to be silenced by the agents of evil and denounced exclusion, defamation and intimidation. Islam is grateful to these leaders, bloggers, and human rights activists who exposed the Ministry of Interior’s allegations.”
Nissaf Slama contributed reporting.