Islamist party condemns Tunisia ban on congress


An Islamist party in Tunisia condemned an official ban on its scheduled annual congress on Saturday and accused the authorities of seeking a confrontation.

Hizb ut-Tahrir, which was granted legal status in 2012, a year after Tunisia's revolution, was to hold the congress under the slogan of a "Caliphate to save the world" but it was banned by the interior ministry "for security reasons".

"They want to drag us into conflict with the security forces," party official Mohamed Yessine Smida told journalists. "But our battle is purely political and we have no problem with the security forces," said Smida, whose party wants to establish a caliphate through non-violent means.

Interior Minister Hedi Majdoub, whose country was last year the target of jihadist attacks in Tunis and a beach resort that killed 60 people, said his ministry had the right to deny authorisation for "any event that could disturb public order".

Tunis governor Fakher Gafsi told Shems FM radio he feared "the state could have been targeted" by a congress of Hizb ut-Tahrir on the eve of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

"I think it's no coincidence that a congress of this kind was organised for two days before Ramadan... which for terrorists is a time for slitting throats and killing," he said.    (AFP)

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