Tunisia’s interior ministry bans rally by pro-Islamist group

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Tunisia’s interior ministry banned a rally in Tunis on Saturday by a controversial militia linked to the ruling Islamist Ennahda party but dozens flaunted the order and gathered anyway.

A branch of the League for the Protection of the Revolution in the capital’s suburb of Kram had called for the rally to demand that a controversial bill on the “immunization” of the revolution be adopted quickly.

The LPR wants all figures with any links to former dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, ousted in a 2011 uprising, to be isolated.

Despite the ban and the presence of police, dozens of LPR members gathered in central Tunis’ Habib Bourghiba Avenue, epicenter of the uprising that toppled Ben Ali.

In announcing the ban, the interior ministry warned that the law would be enforced if it were broken, but police monitoring the gathering did not intervene.

The head of the LPR in Kram, Imed Dghij, was defiant.

“We will be here in this place every Saturday until our demands are satisfied,” he said.

He also called for the removal of “foreign tutelage from Tunisia’s sovereignty.”

Many civil society groups and the country’s secular opposition see the LPR as a brutal pro-Islamist militia, accusing it of resorting to violence to intimidate its critics.

Ennahda and President Moncef Marzouki’s center-left Congress for the Republic, who openly back the LPR, deny that it is a violent militia. It is made up of supporters of the government, Ennahda and the CPR.

Opposition parties, trade unions and even the Ettakatol party, part of the ruling coalition, have demanded the dissolution of the LPR, calling it the “armed wing” of the Islamist authorities.

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