Tunisia’s Salafists Plot Radical Revolution
After Protests, Tunisia’s Salafists Plot a More Radical Revolution
The past week of unrest and protests across the Muslim world was largely the work of more puritanical Salafists, many of whom harbor as much ire for their own governments as they do the West.
In a park hidden from the road and strewn with trash, two young Salafist men dressed in the traditional garb of gray tunics and sandals laid out their plan for revenge against the anti-Islam YouTube video out of California, as well as cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a French satirical magazine this week. In the meeting place they had picked for an interview with TIME on Thursday, the men said they were prepared to wait—years, if necessary—for the right moment to avenge the insults from both the U.S. and France. “We never know when the reaction will be, but sooner or later this revenge is going to be seen by the West, just as we saw with the Danish cartoons,” said Mahmoud, 25, a slender man with black hair, referring to drawings of the Muslim prophet which appeared in a Danish newspaper in 2006—two whole years before al-Qaeda detonated a car bomb outside the Danish embassy in Islamabad in apparent revenge, killing five people. With hardline Islamic youth under tight surveillance since the disastrous attack on Tunis’s U.S. Embassy last Friday, Mahmoud says that devout youth like him will simply wait until the heat is off, before taking action, including possible “jihad.” “We can do anything,” Mahmoud said, “but at the right time and place, under the right circumstances.”
Whether such words by Tunisia’s young Salafists are just fiery bluster or a real threat cannot be known, of course. But after days of violent protests across the Muslim world over the “Innocence of Muslims” video, Tunisian officials are taking no chances.