Tunisian authorities impose curfew amid Islamist riots | News | DW | 13.06.2012
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Tunisian authorities impose curfew amid Islamist riots

Tunis has been the scene of rioting in response to an art exhibition that has been described as insulting to Islam. The unrest led to a curfew being imposed. It also fuelled fears of a rise in radicalism.

The curfew was imposed on Tuesday night in eight regions around the country, including parts of the Tunisian capital, Tunis, after protests blamed on thousands of Salafist Islamists turned violent.

The demonstrators, angered by an art exhibition they claimed insults Islam, threw rocks and petrol bombs at police stations, a court house and secular party offices.

The curfew was imposed on an interim basis between 9 p.m. and 5 p.m.. It was unclear if it would be repeated on Wednesday night.

Justice Ministry official Mohamed Fadhel Saihi was reported by the AFP news agency as telling reporters that 100 people had been injured - including 65 policemen - and 165 arrests made.

Speaking to Shems FM radio on Tuesday, Justice Minister Nourredine Bhiri condemned the "terrorist act" and said those found guilty would "pay a heavy price."

"These are terrorist groups which have lost control, they are isolated in society," Bhiri said.

The violence appeared to be a reaction to the Spring of Arts exhibition in the capital's La Marsa suburb, which has provoked an angry response from some Tunisians.

Among the exhibits deemed to have caused most offense is a work that spells the name of God using insects.

In an apparent concession to the Salafists, the dominant Islamist Ennahda party said it was putting forward a constitutional provision against blasphemy.

The violence has raised fears among moderate Tunisians that radicalism could be on the rise since President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali was toppled from power last year.

rc/ccp (AP, Reuters)