Five people were injured last night after a group of Salafists attacked the final show of Al-Aqsa Festival in Bizerte. According to Shems FM radio the show was cancelled as a result.
The performance was expected to be attended by a number of Palestinian and Lebanese figures, but ended violently and five people were transferred to the hospital.
Two other cultural events have been cancelled as well this week after being interrupted by Salafist groups.
A group of Salafists demonstrated during the show of Tunisian artist Lotfi Abdelli on August 14, and pushed him to cancel his comedy performance entitled “100% Halal”.
Salafists showed up in the Bayrem Ettounsi Cultural Centre in the town of Menzel Bourguiba in the governorate of Bizerte and started praying inside in an attempt to cancel the show.
“They had settled themselves at noon and started their after-midday prayer of dhuhr in the place and extended it to the tarawih prayers of Ramadhan…” said Abdelli.
According to Abdelli, some Salafists tried to obstruct and terrorize the audience.
“Police officers were there, but they were waiting for an official order from the government to intervene. The government’s silence is the most worrying thing. When people go to manifest peacefully in streets it [the government] would send its officers to hit, insult, and humiliate them, yet when Salafists are making trouble, they are just set free to do whatever they want,” he added.
The Tunisian artist mentioned that this happened as a reaction to the imam of the village, who made a speech against the show and incited the people to prevent it, deeming the show as offensive to Islam.
The incident pushed the governor of Bizerte to officially cancel the show.
“The ministry firmly condemns what happened, but still we have no response from the government. Yesterday, Salafists attacked Lotfi Boushnek’s show, and they got what they wanted! Now, we artists are all heading to the Hamra Theater to meet and to find a way to solve this problem,” concluded Abdelli.
On August 15, Salafists headed to Lotfi Boushnek’s show in the governorate of Kairouan. Business News reported that a social media campaign had been waged against the show, inciting locals to boycott it as he was accompanied by Suffi Iranian performers. According to Business News, the protesters took issue with the Iranians because they were “Shiites”.
Hamadi Whaibi, the secretary general of the Union of Tunisian Artists, declared to Mosaique FM that Salafists had blocked access to the Iranian artists and asked them to go back to their hotels. The governor, according to Whaibi, had surrendered to the Salafists’ demands and canceled the event. As a reaction, many of the people who came to the show decided to go home.
“Around 30 media outlets were talking about the incident, but the government is just keeping a blind eye to what is happening,” accused Abdelli.