Bloomberg News

Tunisian Salafis Blame Recent Unrest on ‘Foreign Parties’

May 29, 2012

A Tunisian Salafi party blamed what it said were “foreign parties” for recent violence that has stirred new unrest in the North African nation.

Hundreds of Salafis, who adhere to an ultraconservative interpretation of Islam, last week forcibly shut bars and liquor shops in two western regions in the country. The incidents were condemned by Tunisia’s Islamist-led government, and stoked worries that they could threaten the country’s long-standing secularist background and undercut the vital tourism industry as Tunisia struggles to revive its economy.

While condemning the violence, Ridha Belhaj, the spokesman of the Salafist Ettahrir Party, told reporters that “some foreign parties are trying to infiltrate” the Salafi groups to “create a situation that serves their agenda.” He didn’t elaborate or say whom he blamed for the incidents.

Islamist Prime Minister Hamadi Jbeli has said his government won’t close bars and wine shops.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jihen Laghmari in Tunisia via the Cairo newsroom at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden in Dubai at

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