Scores Arrested After Tunis Art Riots
More than 100 people have been arrested after Salafi Muslims and others clashed with police in Tunis over an art exhibition many say insults Islam.
Protesters blocked streets and set tyres alight on Monday night in the working class Ettadamen and Sidi Hussein districts of the capital, hurling petrol bombs at police in some of the worst confrontations the city has seen since last year’s revolt.
“The people arrested will be brought to justice under the anti-terror law decreed in 2003,” interior ministry official Mohamed Fadhel Saihi told reporters the day after a wave of unrest that left 65 policemen injured, led to 165 arrests, and which the government has condemned as “terrorism”.
By morning, protests had spread to a number of residential districts, with young men preventing trams from passing through the Intilaqa district of the capital, where shops remained closed. There was evidence of looting in some areas, where shop windows were smashed.
The clashes came a day after a group of Salafis, who follow a strictly conservative interpretation of Islam, forced their way into an art exhibition in the upscale La Marsa suburb and defaced works they deemed offensive.
But Salafis denied involvement in the rampage in several areas of the capital Tunis and in the country’s northwest, and instead called a protest after this week’s Friday prayers.
The artwork that appears to have caused the most fury and polarised Tunisians spelt out the name of God using insects.