Two Tunis Imams have been arrested on suspicion of involvement with terrorist activities.
Imams at Mosques in Mourouj2 and Ezzahra, both in southern Tunis were arrested along with five other suspects yesterday on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activities. Mosaique FM report police seizing a computer and documents with apparent instructions to kill security officers and army soldiers. Speaking to Tunisia Live, a spokesperson of the Ministry of Interior, Yeser Mosbeh declined to comment further as the case was under investigation.
The General Secretary of the Tunisian Union of Imams, Fadhel Achour spoke to Tunisia Live about the standards of training for imams in Tunisia; saying, “the Union of Imams proposed to deal with the issue back in October 23rd 2011, when many mosques have been taken over by salafists, who recruited radicalized imams to run them. However, the issue was not taken seriously, (by the government) and ignored.” He continued, “There are at least 80 mosques out of government control, 300 radicalized imams who refuse our way of life, our perceptions and our faith; especially in Tunis, Bizerte, Sidi Bouzid and Medenine.”
Commenting upon the arrest in Mourouj, Achour said, “It’s a place crowded with salafists and jihadists. It’s where (the religious party) Hizb ut Tahrir are based.” Achour called for the Ministry of Religious Affairs to increase the level of control over the country’s Mosques, highlighting the damage an illegal, or uncontrolled mosque can cause to the communities in which they are based, as well as the wider country.
In an effort to raise the level of professionalism among the country’s Imams, 43 were sent to Morroco for one year’s training. However, the scheme has since lost the government subsidy that supported it. The Union of Imams has since requested the Ministry of Religious Affairs to provide training to all imams enabling them to develop the skills required for their calling.
Zaineb is a journalist in the Tunisia Live newsroom. She speaks Arabic, French and English.