Tunisia: Mass rallies for and against Islamist government

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Tunisia: Mass rallies for and against Islamist government

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Tens of thousands of Tunisians have been demonstrating in support of the country’s Islamist led government.

Supporters of the ruling Ennahda party gathered outside the prime minister’s office in the capital, Tunis.

One demonstrator, Jameela Bin Rabeh, said life had improved for practising Muslims under the government:

“Ennahda improved our lives in every aspect. We are free to dress and to go out and to pray. Go to the mosques, full freedom, you can wear what you want, to cover up and to wear the veil. Whatever you like, not like before. Before, we used to pray under the eyes of the police and security forces who used to arrest us. They would stop us and our men too, and they would beat us,” she said.

Meanwhile the opposition has been rallying daily. Another march against the government is planned for Sunday.

Supporters are angry at the assassination of two secular politicians and believe the government is not doing enough to clamp down on extremism. Many Tunisians have watched events in Egypt, noting how the Islamist government was overthrown by the military, and want to dissolve the government.

Talks on the political and security crisis, planned for Saturday, failed after the main opposition groups refused to attend.

Ennahda is a moderate Islamist party. Tunisia’s prime minister has appealed for calm from pro- and anti-government groups planning rival mass rallies all weekend.