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Tunisia: Ennahda Government Prepares to Forbid all Blasphemous Art.

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Islamists Threaten Blasphemous Art.

Tunisian Salafists have not only attacked Trade Unionists and secularists. Their latest target is artists. This time they received open support from Islamists within the state. The result, so far, has been that the Tunisian authorities have had to clamp down on their own functionaries.

Tunisia Live reports,

Tunisian judicial officer Mohamed Ali Bouaziz was arrested yesterday for “inciting controversy” over artwork featured at an exhibition in La Marsa – a northern suburb of Tunis – last week.

La Marsa’s Printemps des Arts show in the Palais Abdellia aroused nationwide controversy, after the facility was attacked on June 11 by religious activists for displaying artwork that was considered by some to be offensive to Islam. The incident sparked riots in a number of cities, including greater Tunis, resulting in the imposition of a curfew that lasted for three days. Here.

This follows this

“Houcine Laabidi, the chairman of the Zitouna Mosque Scientific Committee, condemned the artwork at the Printemps des Arts Abdellia as “blasphemous” yesterday. (also from Tunisia Live.)

During the Friday prayer, Laabidi said that the paintings were “provocative,” adding that the artists were “infidels,” and should be put to death.

Laabidi interpreted Nadia Jelassi’s piece of art, entitled “Celui qui n’a pas…,” as an affront to veiled Muslim women.

“That painting was disgraceful, accusing veiled, believing women of being adulterous because they pictured them stoned,” furthered Laabidi, according to a recording on the Mosaique FM radio station.

The Ministry of Religious Affairs spoke out against Laabidi’s statements.

”What Laabidi said does not represent the Ministry of Religious Affairs. On the contrary, we condemn what he said. He is the only one responsible for this decision. Inciting violence is a crime punishable and proscribed by law and the ministry will act upon that,” said the advisor to the Ministry of Religious Affairs, Ali Lafi, to Mosaique FM.”

Libération paints a much less rosy picture of the outcome of the Islamists violent attack on artistic freedom,

“Un mort, des centaines de blessés, des bâtiments saccagés… Quelques jours après les violences qui ont secoué la Tunisie, les artistes restent sidérés : comment une exposition d’art contemporain a-t-elle pu déchaîner une telle colère ?”

One dead, hundreds injured, buildings sacked…A few days after the violence that shook Tunisia artists remain in a state of shock:  how could an exhibition of contemporary art provoke such anger?

This is the most important point,

Le parti islamiste Ennahda annonce qu’il défendra une loi interdisant «l’atteinte au sacré» dans la future Constitution.

The Islamist Party, Ennahda, has announced that it will defend putting a law forbidding all “attacks on the Holy” into  the future Constitution.

They add that artists and supporters of freedom of expression have reacted,”Des plaintes sont en cours contre les auteurs des menaces et contre le ministre de la Culture. Des pétitions de soutien circulent.”

Legal complaints against those who’ve made threats and the Minster of Culture have been made, and petitions of support are being circulated. More Here.

What’s at stake is  ‘Salafist’ violence (of many kinds and sources) has an impact and relation with the Islamisation of the Tunisian state (here).

Written by Andrew Coates

June 24, 2012 at 11:38 am

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