AFRICA/TUNISIA - The Salafists are few but well organized

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Tunis (Agenzia Fides) - "The Salafists are few but are concentrated in crowds in the places where they stage their protests. In this sense they make a bad impression" says to Fides Agency Fr. Jawad Alamat, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) in Tunisia, where between yesterday and today, clashes broke out between police and groups of Salafists who attacked a court, a police station and blocked the highway linking Tunis to Beja. Police fired tear gas and arrested 46 people.
"So far, the Islamic party in power, Ennhada, has adopted the policy of dialogue with the extremists," explains Fr. Alamat. "The new leadership of Tunisia states that repressing the Salafist movement would worsen the situation because in doing so it would most probably attract popular sympathy. Ennhada says that we must respect differences of opinion, but that these should not become a burden to others. "
According to Fr. Alamat "the actions of the Salafists begin to be unpopular, I do not know how far one can continue to dialogue with the extremists. Tunisia is also making a huge effort to attract foreign investment and tourists. The actions of the Salafists risk to move away from each other when instead Tunisia needs to revitalize its economy. " "On the other hand, the more the economic situation worsens, the easier it is for the Salafists to recruit new followers, since their movement is well funded, especially from abroad," said Fr. Alamat.
"I am confident that the Tunisian people that rebelled against the tyranny of the previous regime, will be able to cope with a group, however violent, but still a minority," concludes the National Director of the PMS in Tunisia. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 12/6/2012)