Hardline Salafis attacked a peaceful pro-Palestine protest on Friday evening in the Tunisian city of Gabes.
Hundreds of people were marching in support of the Palestinian demand for statehood on the occasion of International Quds Day but were attacked, witnesses said.
In a telephone interview with UPI a protester said that about 30 people affiliated with the hardline Salafi movement “attacked participants in the march with sticks and batons on the pretext that they are Shia, and not allowed to display their beliefs in the town of Abu Lubaba Ansari.”
The witness, who requested anonymity, said that clashed between Salafis and the participants in the rally continued for more than an hour in the absence of security forces – resulting in a number of injuries.
The witness added that Salafis attacked participants with sticks and stones, and also burnt the Palestinian flag and hoisted black banners reading “there is no god but Allah.”
They also chanted slogans, including: “There is no god but Allah, and Shias are the enemies of God,” and others calling for the killing of Shias.
Tunisia has witnessed a number of aggressive moves moves by the Salafi movement in the past week.
On Thursday night the closing ceremony of the second session of the al-Aqsa festival in the city of Bizerte was interrupted by attacks in which five people were injured.
The festival was attended by Samir Kuntar, a Lebanese resistance figure formerly detained in Israel.
Militant Salafis stormed the concert hall and threatened the audience with swords and sticks on the pretext that Kuntar is Shia, despite him coming from a Druze background.
Extremist demonstrations in the name of Islam have become an increasing trend in Tunisia and security forces have been accused of turning a blind eye to such attacks.
(english.al-akhbar.com / 19.08.2012)