Riot police in Tunis used tear-gas on Oct. 9 to disperse hundreds of young Islamists who fought back with stones, knives and sticks. At least 40 were arrested. The Islamists were protesting against Tunisia’s long-standing ban on university enrollment by women who wear the niqab, or full-face veil, as well as a TV station’s plan to broadcast animated film Persepolis, which they say denigrates their faith. Tunisians will vote in an Oct. 23 election for an assembly to draft a new constitution. The Islamist Ennahda party is expected to win the biggest share of the vote, alarming secularists. (AP, Reuters, Oct. 9)
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Victorious Tunisian Islamists reassure foreign capital
Tunisia’s “moderate” Islamist party, Ennahdha, won 90 out of 217 seats in the elections last week, meaning it must negotiate a coalition government with secular parties. The party says it will create jobs with tax cuts (“for the poor”) and incentives for foreign capital to invest.
The government imposed a curfew on the central town of Sidi Bouzid after post-electoral violence. Residents angered by annulment of victories in nine seats by Areedha Chaabiya, or the Popular Petition party, set government buildings on fire. Areedha Chaabiya’s leader, Hachemi Hamdi, a native son of Sidi Bouzid and owner of the London-based Mustaqila satellite TV channel, had broadcast promises to give Tunisians free health care, new factories and thousands of jobs. The party withdrew the 19 seats it won in protest of the annulment. (Bloomberg, AP, Oct. 28)
Tunisian Jews to Israel: We’re staying here, thanks!
Israeli Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom appealed to Tunisian Jews to emigrate to Israel following elections that brought a moderate Islamist party to power—but was publicly rebuffed by leaders of the North African country’s Jewish community. See full report at New Jewish Resistance