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Tunisia: Salafis reject blame for embassy attack - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Tunis, Asharq Al-Awsat – Abdelmadjid Habibi, a leading member of the conservative Hizb ut-Tahrir party, has stressed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the storming of the home of Saifullah Hussaini – alias Abu-Ayyad the Sheikh of Salafis in Tunisia – and holding the Salafi trend responsible for what happened to the US embassy is turning the country’s religious youths into “scapegoats”.

Habibi considers the recent violent events as an attempt to trigger sedition in the country. According to Habibi, the protests were peaceful in the beginning, and called for supporting the Prophet and Islam; however, things soon turned violent with the appearance of firearms and the use of Molotov cocktails, which in Habibi’s opinion is proof that outside elements infiltrated the protest, and changed it from its peaceful nature into a bloody confrontation.

Habibi was also critical of what he called the “Salafi coat hanger”, where remnants of the old regime and people with criminal records have turned in a blink of an eye into Salafi youths merely by wearing traditional clothing and growing beards.

The Salafi leader went on to blast the United States for trying to drag the region into confrontations, emphasising that these US attempts target Tunisia and Libya in particular, the two countries known for unity.

Habibi told Asharq Al-Awsat that the United States manufactures the enemy then wages war against it, emphasizing that America knows that the reaction of some Islamist groups might be unpredictable, especially if the issue is related to provocations against their beliefs.

Habibi added that the danger that might face Tunisia in the near future is that the fighting between its people might replace the country’s efforts on development, employment.

On Saturday morning Tunisian security forces raided the home of Saifullah Hussaini, the Sheikh of Salafis in Tunisia; however, Hussaini was able to evade arrest and escape. Sources close to Hussaini have said that he is safe and hiding. Abu-Ayyad withdrew from the protests he was leading in the center of the Tunisian capital toward the US embassy. This took place after the protests turned violent, according to sources close to the Salafi movement. The sources attribute the escalation to security forces provoking demonstrators.

Within this context, Lutfi Haidouri, an officials at the Tunisian Interior Ministry, said that Tunisian security forces continue to search for those involved in the storming of the US embassy in Tunis, and these forces “will not hesitate to arrest anyone linked to these attacks, whether by incitement or by participating in the arson and sabotage actions”.

Tunisia’s ruling party the Ennahda Movement (Islamist party), has called for an international law that prohibits insulting all prophets, while it also condemned the exploitation by some groups of these incidents in order to incite violence.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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