08/29/2013, 00.00
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Tunisian government turns on former Salafist allies, calling them terrorists

The Salafist movement is responsible for the murders of Chokri Belais and Mohamed Brahmi, leaders of the non-Islamic opposition. Its members have ties to al-Qaeda.

Tunis (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The Tunisian government has added Salafist movement Ansar al-Sharia to its list of terrorist groups. Until 2012, the movement was part of the ruling majority led by the Islamist Ennahda party. Now its members are accused of plotting the murder of Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi, leaders of the non-Islamic opposition.

A few days ago, Prime Minister Ali Larayedh said he had irreproachable proof against the group, which is fighting to implement Sharia law in the whole of Tunisia. "Anyone belonging to it must face judicial consequences," he explained.

Mr Larayedh also said the group was supporting an armed jihadist cell linked to al Qaeda that the Tunisian army has been hunting for months in the remote Mount Chaambi region along the Algerian border.

Founded in April 2011 in the aftermath of the Tunisia uprising, Ansar al-Sharia wants the introduction of Islamic law across Tunisia.

Its leader, Seif Allah Ibn Hussein, also known as Abu Ayadh al-Tunisi, was in prison under the regime of former President Ben Ali and was released along with other Islamists after the Arab Spring.

Allied with the ruling party Ennahda, which is the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, Ansar al-Sharia was banned after the attacks on the US Embassy in Tunis in September 2012.

In recent years, its supporters have been involved in attacks on cinema, art exhibits, universities, as well as shows and people deemed not in line with the Sharia.

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