Extremists on the March in Tunisia
Tunisia extended its state of emergency today. It came after Islamist fundamentalists attacked two national guard posts and dozens of supporters took to the streets of the capital Tunis, a number waving knives.
Previously such extensions only occurred on a 30 day basis. This time, and in the latest worrying sign for the north African states of the Arab Spring, it will last until to the end of January.
Tunisia has for decades been considered one of the most secular in the Arab world. After the moderate Islamist Ennahda Movement won last year’s election, it formed a coalition with two non-religious parties on the promise not to ban alcohol, impose the veil or use sharia as the basis for Tunisian law.
When the new Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali met independentvoices.com Editor-in-Chief Evgeny Lebedev shortly afterwards (see accompanying video), he was adamant the country would continue its moderate path.
“Tunisian society is an open society,” he promised. “Moderate. This is what [Tunisians] are moving towards. They will not accept extreme solutions.”
That aspiration has increasingly been challenged by recent events. Tunis has seen clashes between alcohol sellers and hard-line Salafi Muslims. In September dozens of people attacked a hotel in Sidi Bouzid because it was the last place in the city that still served alcohol.