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article imageTunisia: Islamic extremists attack university head over veil ban

By Katerina Nikolas     Oct 9, 2011 in World
Sousse - A group of extremist Islamists reacted violently to a university's refusal to enrol a woman wearing a niqab. They stormed the university in Sousse, attacking the General Secretary.
Extreme Islamists reacted with violence when a university in Sousse, Tunisia, refused to enrol a woman wearing a niqab. The Ministry of Education imposed a niqab (full-face veil) ban at the beginning of the academic year. Alarabiya reported that a group of 200 protesters stormed the university demanding students’ rights to wear the veil.
Moncef Abdul Jalil, a faculty head at the university, said “The General Secretary of the university was attacked this morning with extreme violence by a group of religious extremists” adding “This serious incident caused a state of terror and panic in the ranks of college students and professors.” In reaction to the incident a group of about 200 women formed a counter-protest in Tunis, arranged online, to protest against religious violence.
The full-face veil was previously alien to Tunisia’s predominantly secular society, but since the fall of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali the influence of Islamists is growing. Tunisia will hold elections later this month and the Islamic Ennahada party is expected to win. The party, inspired by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, was banned under Ben Ali’s rule, but was legalized earlier this year. France 24 reported the party was founded in 1981 by Rachid Ghannouchi, who returned to Tunisia from exile in London in Jan. this year.
During an interview with Reuters, Rachid Ghannouchi stressed that the party will not try to impose strict Islamic rules, saying “All the values of democracy and modernity are respected by Ennahda. We are a party that can find a balance between modernity and Islam.” On the issue of the veil he promised "A woman's freedom and her freedom of dress has been established and we will develop it."Tunisia has long been dependent on its tourist industry which relies on the country’s secular image. Tourism was dealt a devastating blow following the uprising which led to the ousting of Ben Ali, emphasizing the importance of maintaining a secular and tolerant attitude.
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