Zitouna Mosque official censured for inciting murder
Tunisia's Religious Affairs Ministry banned a Zitouna Mosque official from preaching, following controversial comments made during prayers on Friday (June 15th).
Houcine Laabidi, who heads the mosque's "Scientific Committee", said that the artists involved in the "blasphemous" Palais Abdellia art exhibit were "infidels" who should be put to death.
"What Laabidi said does not represent the Ministry of Religious Affairs. On the contrary, we condemn what he said… Inciting violence is a crime punishable by law," ministry official Ali Lafi told Mosaique FM. "No one can randomly judge and sentence people," he added.
The Tunisian president's office also denounced Laabidi's call for the murder of artists, saying in a statement released Saturday that "the freedoms of opinion, expression and artistic creation [were] irrevocable rights".
The display at the Palais Abdellia infuriated ultra-conservative Islamists, sparking riots that began last Monday evening and ultimately forced authorities to declare a curfew in several Tunisian cities.
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