Tunisia to launch campaign to curb extremism among youth

21.03.2016

Tunisia announced on Thursday that it is launching a campaign to counter religious extremism among its youth after a string of deadly jihadist attacks in the North African country. The one-year campaign to start on Sunday aims to promote "Islam's real, moderate values" and to protect "youth and their thinking from terrorism", Religious Affairs Minister Mohamed Khalil said.

Extremism has "invaded the thoughts of our youth via the Internet", he said.

The ministry will launch a website featuring recorded sermons and religious seminars as part of a campaign dubbed "Ghodwa khir" - "Tomorrow will be better" in Tunisian Arabic dialect. It will also fund awareness raising programmes on public and private radio and television stations.

A helpline will be set up for "youths with questions about religion" and authorised imams and preachers will supervise classes in mosques.

Tunisia has failed to curb a rise in extremism since the 2011 revolution that ousted long-time dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Last year, the Islamic State jihadist group claimed attacks on the Bardo museum in Tunis and a popular resort hotel, killing 59 tourists in total, as well as the suicide bombing of a bus that killed 12 presidential guards.

Earlier this month, jihadists launched a wave of deadly attacks on army and police posts in a town near the Libyan border.

Thousands of Tunisians have signed up to fight abroad with extremist groups.

Justice Minister Omar Mansour on Wednesday said the authorities would launch a programme to "reform" the thinking of suspects detained in terrorism-related cases. Around 2,000 people convicted or accused of "terrorism" are being held in Tunisia, according to prisons administration chief Saber Khelifi.    (AFP)

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