Published: Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Hardliner Islamists must be fought but legally: Tunisia

Tunisia’s secular president said in comments published yesterday that Salafist hardliners blamed for deadly violence since the 2011 revolution should be fought but within the bounds of the law.
President Moncef Marzouki said there should be no return to the strong-arm tactics of ousted dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, even after the February assassination of leftist politician Chokri Belaid that has sparked Tunisia’s worst crisis since his overthrow.
“I want to continue talks with the traditionalist and reformist currents” of the Salafist movement, Marzouki told Algerian newspaper El Khabar in an interview.
“As for the armed current, we will fight it (but) I insist that that be done within the bounds of the law,” he said.
Belaid was gunned down outside his Tunis home in broad daylight on February 6, in the most serious in a spate of attacks blamed by the government on radical Salafists.
But relatives of the vocal critic of the Islamist-dominated government have blamed his killing on Ennahda, a claim the party strongly denies.
Ennahda prime minister Hamadi Jebali stepped down after his party refused to back his efforts to defuse the crisis by forming a government of technocrats.