A prominent Tunisian author and professor is the target of a potential assassination plot orchestrated by alleged terror cells.
Olfa Youssef, professor of Applied Islamic Studies and Arab Linguistics at the University of Sousse, is one among several public figures targeted by the alleged terrorist cells, Sofiene Sliti, spokesman for Tunisia’s Anti-Terror Brigades has said.
Contacted by Tunisia Live, Youssef declined to comment for security reasons.
The threat comes just days after the author uploaded a video to her Facebook page, outlining her position on the role of the hijab in Islam. Within the video, Youssef argues that no Quranic text stipulates women must cover their heads, a view fiercely denounced by many viewers.
This is not the first time the professor has been under threat for espousing controversial beliefs. Her book, Seven Controversies in Islam–Talk About It, published February 26, 2016 , stirred controversy after touching on taboo subjects such as the place of homosexuality, consumption of alcohol, and women marrying outside of the faith in Islam.
A previous book, The Confusion of a Muslim Woman: On Inheritance, Marriage and Homosexuality, argued that homosexuality was not specifically forbidden in Islam and that the text specifying women should receive only half their brothers’ inheritance should be questioned, incensing many conservative scholars and prompting numerous lawsuits.
In an interview with Tunisia Live earlier this year, Youssef dismissed the seriousness of such denunciations.
“Their shallow perspective makes me laugh,” she said in May, “It would be easy to simply delete the insults on Facebook, but I don’t usually do it.”
Speaking with Tunisia Live, Sliti, said that 62 people are under investigation in connection with recent terror plots, and additional arrest warrants have been issued. Security forces have also been deployed to protect prominent buildings and institutions, he said.
In a possibly related development, security forces announced earlier today that a raid on a suspect’s house in Bannan, within Monastir had revealed plans to bomb an airport bus. According to MosaiqueFM, the suspect has appeared before the Court of the First Instance in Monastir.