The issue of how much Islam should influence society was the focal point for protesters outside the parliament in building in Tunisia on Saturday.
Both sides of the argument were represented, with secularists facing off against Islamists – many of whom supported Ennahda, the moderate Muslim party most successful in October’s elections.
One protester said he was more interested in politicians getting on with what they were chosen to do: “The various segments of society want the people who were elected to the Constituent Assembly to do their work well. This is what we are asking for,” he said.
Another man in Tunis was disappointed with what he saw as the lack of change since the former leader was ousted in January: “We don’t want to see the elite we saw on television before the revolution. We’ve been waiting six months and nothing has changed. Who will govern – the minority in this country or the people?”
As the unrest continues, Tunisia’s vital tourist industry has been hit hard.
Ennahda, who benefitted from the lifting of a ban on religious parties, are trying to reassure potential visitors, by downplaying their Islamist leanings.
Speaking to a gathering of French operators from the tourism industry, the party leader Hamad Jebali said: “Ennahda is not a religious party. I want to tell you this and confirm it officially. It is a civil party.”
Ennahda dominates the 217-member assembly elected in the country’s first democratic polls on 23 October after winning 90 seats and its leader could become the next prime minister.
Role of Islam divides people in Tunisia