Tunisia expels Moroccan Salafist convicted of indoctrinating suicide bombers


About 50 Tunisian Salafist Muslims protested Tuesday at Tunis-Carthage airport against the expulsion of two Moroccan theologians banned from entering the country, an AFP reporter said.

According to police, about 300 Salafists, who favor a strict interpretation of Quranic law, arrived at the airport on Monday night to welcome their guests, Hassan Kattani and Omar El Hadouchi, who belong to the most radical Islamic movement in Morocco.

Both men were convicted of indoctrinating the Muslim suicide bombers who carried out the Casablanca attacks of May 16, 2003 that killed 45 people. They received a pardon last February.

“They are on the list of people banned from entry on to Tunisian territory and will be sent back home during the day,” Interior Ministry spokesman Khaled Tarrouche told AFP.

But the Salafists questioned the move.

“We welcome Nancy Ajram (a Lebanese pop singer) and not Omar El Hadouchi. Is she worth more than him?” asked one of the Salafists present by the entrance to the airport.

“We want freedom for everybody, otherwise something will happen,” he added, before being told to be quiet by another Salafist.

The demonstrators refused to make any comment or allow photos to be taken and began Islamic chants.

Large numbers of police were present.

The two Moroccans had been invited by one of the many Islamic associations to emerge after Tunisia’s revolution last year, Essalam (Peace).

“They were to give lessons to students and meet Tunisia’s sheikhs,” said an Essalam official, Selim Ben Yahlas.

“Our association is neither terrorist nor backward. We invited two influential sheikhs, and we calmly ask the Interior Ministry to tell us what administrative procedures to follow and the conditions necessary to receive them,” he added.