Tunis, Asharq Al-Awsat—Clashes in Tunisia between Salafist extremists and security forces in Tunisia and Kairouan on Sunday have left one Tunisian citizen dead. Eleven policemen and 3 protesters were also injured in the clashes that followed the government’s decision to ban a conference planned by hardline Salafists.
A number of neighborhoods in Tunis witnessed conflict as security forces successfully prevented thousands of Salafists from attending their conference in Kairouan.
The extremist organization announced yesterday that it would hold its annual conference in Kairouan, but did it not ask permission from the Tunisian state, which it does not recognize. Authorities banned the conference and deployed numerous security reinforcements in the city.
In response, the Salafists decided to move their conference to the Al-Tadamon neighborhood in the western suburbs of the capital. Clashes between security personnel and the extremists broke out in Al-Tadamon and adjacent neighborhoods.
Police fired tear gas and warning shots in the air to disperse protestors, who threw stones at the police. Military aircraft circled over the area.
The Ansar Al-Sharia page on the social media website Facebook said that the police had arrested Saifuddin Al-Rais, the official spokesperson for the militant group. The time and place of his detention was not immediately clear.
In a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, Mohamed ben Salim, the agriculture minister and a leader in the Ennahda party, said that any illegal actions “must be confronted with appropriate force, without the exclusion of political affiliation.”