On Sunday, hundreds of people gathered in Tunis to protest against government ban on Hijab (a religious requirement for Muslim women) and and showing of 2007 anti-Islamic regime movie Persepoli which makes fun of several Islamic traditions.
Tunisian police arrested 50 demostrators in front of the offices of a television channel showing the anti-Islam movie Persepolis. The movie is based on Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novels about growing up during an after the establishment of Islamic State in 1979.
Marjane Satrapi was born into an Atheist communist family in Tehran in 1969. She studied in Vienna and Tehran. As a teenager, she got into trouble with Iranian police for attending illegal booze-dance parties. She married an Iranian man Reza at the age 21 but divorced him after three years. She now lives in Paris with her Swedish Christian husband Mattias Ripa.
Tension is mounting before an election later this month, the first since mass protests toppled Tunisia’s autocratic leader, that will pit Islamists free to express their beliefs for the first time against secularists who say their western values are under threat.
Several hundred protesters gathered outside the main university campus in Tunis, and from there went to the working-class neighbourhood of Jebel El-Ahmar, north of the city centre, where the clashes with police broke out.
Tunisians will vote in an October 23 election for an assembly to draft a new constitution. The Islamist Ennahda party is expected to win the biggest share of the vote, alarming secularists who have traditionally dominated the ruling elite.
Tunisia has been ruled by anti-Islam secularists for many decades. The recent regime-change in Tunis doesn’t reflect the feelings of the Muslim majority there. The new regime in place also committed to the pro-US-Israeli policies of the previous Ben Ali regime.
Some US foreign policy insiders believe that Washington wants Sakhr El Materi (son-in-law of Ben Ali), Chairman of the Tunisia-US Parliamentary Friendship Group, to head the new government. Sakhr El Materi met the Pentagon and State Department officials before the anti-Ben Ali protests. Israel-CIA authored Wikileaks has claimed that Ben Ali family is the most corrupt in Tunisia after it broke diplomatic relations with Israel in 2000. Wikileaks also says that Sakhar is very much concerned with rising influence of Iran.