The demonstrations and home assault represent an escalations in tensions liberals and religious conservatives ahead Tunisia’s landmark Oct. 23 election for a constitutional body that will determine the future of this North African nation that overthrew its longtime dictator in January.
Worshippers poured out of al-Fatah mosque in downtown Tunis in the afternoon and began protesting after the imam preached against “Persepolis,” calling it a “serious attack on the religious beliefs of Muslims.”
Marjane Satrapi’s award-winning adaptation of her graphic novels about growing up during Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution contains a scene showing a character representing God. Depictions of God are considered sacrilege in Islam.
The preacher in Tunis questioned the timing of the broadcast by a private TV station during such a sensitive period before the election, describing it as an attempt to divide Tunisians at a time when national unity was needed.
There have been other protests against the TV station in the cities of Sousse, Monastir, Sidi Bouzid and Beja. Police arrested 50 demonstrators in Tunis on Sunday after they tried to attack the station.
There have been a rise in attacks against perceived symbols of secularism by hardcore Muslims in Tunisia ahead of the elections. Once suppressed by the former regime, conservative Muslims are increasingly making themselves heard in the country’s politics.
Since the government was overthrown in January, Tunisia has been filled with unrest and demonstrations as well as the rise of a new ultraconservative group of Muslims that had kept a low profile under the largely secular regime of former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Salafists, as the conservatives are known, attacked a movie theater in June that was showing a film they deemed insulting to Islam and last week there were attacks on university that refused to enroll a student wearing the conservative Islamic face veil.
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