Tunisia: Benghazi US embassy attackers tear gassed off streets

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Tunisia: Benghazi US embassy attackers tear gassed off streets
Tunis, Tunisia
May 19, 2013, 18:19 (GMT)
Aspect Ratio
protest, tunisia, islam, ansar al sharia

1. W/S of demonstrators with Ansar al-Sharia flag and tear gas

2. M/S of police man walking a abandoned street with fire and smoke surrounding him

3. W/S of Salafists being dispersed with tear gas

4. C/U of police man on top of tank ready to dispatch

5. M/S of driving military tanks with sirens

6. W/S of Salafists and carrying a Ansar al-Sharia flag and tear gas surrounding the demonstrators

7. M/S of driving ambulances

8. W/S of demonstrators with tear gas surrounding them

9. W/S of police walking the streets moderating the demonstrators

10. W/S of demonstrators running away

11. W/S of tear gas and sounds of sirens

12. W/S of demonstrators in a larger crowd

13. W/S of demonstrators with smoke surrounding them

14. M/S of tank with police presence

15. W/S of Salafist waving the Ansar al-Sharia flag

16. W/S of helicopter


Tunisia: Benghazi US embassy attackers tear gassed off streets

Some five hundred members of the Ansar al-Sharia Salafi movement encountered a torrent of tear gas and bullets on Sunday in Tunis after the government prohibited the hardline Islamic group from holding its annual meeting in the fourth holiest city of Islam, Kairouan. The group has become notorious in the West since taking responsibility for an attack on the US Embassy in Benghazi last year, which killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

Although the Salafists intended to defy the government ban on Sunday, their call for a congress was unsuccessful due to police intervention. The police increased security on Friday in the holy city, cordoning off roads to Kairouan to prevent people from entering and monitored highways in the capital city all day Sunday. Clashes broke out mostly in a suburb of Ettadhamen in Tunis and in the holy city of Kairouan after the Salafist hurled rocks at the police, calling them 'police of the devil'.

Tunisian Femen member ‘Amina’ was arrested in Kairouan early Sunday after writing the word ‘Femen’ on a wall of the Uqba Ibn Nafaâ mosque. The 19 year old activist returned to her home country months after shocking the Muslim world and receiving death threats for posting a topless photo of herself on Facebook with the words, 'Fuck your Morals' written across her bare chest. In April, FEMEN staged an 'International Topless Jihad Day' in support of Amina.

Despite the toppling of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011 and the political rise of the Islamic-centered 'Ennahda Movement', the call for radical Islam has not dwindled in Tunisia. Ansar al-Sharia have gained power and influence for their brand of Islamic reform, calling for the enforcement of stricter Sharia laws in Tunisian society.

Rached Ghannouchi, the head of the Ennahda Movement, has stated that the government will not tolerate the annual congress, due to Ansar al-Sharia Salafists showing disdain for state institutions. Moreover, the Interior Ministry publicly stated that the ban is to ensure public safety given that the group is accused of inciting violence.

The spokesman of the Ansar al-Sharia group, Seifeddince Rais, responded to the ban by saying that Islam does not need 'permission from the government to preach the word of God', and further warned the state against preventing the congress from taking place.

The congress last year gathered thousands of supporters, some in Afghan military garb, with many waving swords and chanting slogans that included, "We are all children of Osama [Bin Laden]".

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