Tunisia's Minister of the Interior Minister has insisted that militant groups in the country cannot expect any compromise or truce from the government. Ali El-Areed said that this stance will also be taken against those sections of the media which are "highly politicised and anti-government".
In an interview published by Alsharq Alawsat newspaper in London, Mr El-Areed said: "The Interior Ministry is addressing the issue of violent groups, whether they operate in the name of religion or as criminal groups that have flourished or benefited from the new-found freedom in the country."
There will be no compromise with such groups, he stressed. "We will not stop until these groups either suspend their activities or show respect for the people of Tunisia within the framework of the law."
El-Areed said that the policy will be extended to those involved in corrupt practices which obstruct the government's work. "Some of these people give money to others to go onto the streets and demonstrate against the government," he said, "so we will tackle corruption and the side-effects of corruption."
The minister said that there is a need for the "overly-politicised" media to publicise positive things about the country and the government's efforts and progress. "Some media ignore these aspects completely," he claimed.
When asked about the state of emergency and its extension for another three months, El-Areed pointed out that the government was about to send the army back to barracks early in the summer, "but the militant groups have made that impossible".
He denied that Salafis generally are a problem in Tunisia, just the members of the "violent Salafi cult, which represents extremism and militancy". This group, he noted, does not recognise the state, the meaning of citizenship, liberties, the people's will, the elections and women's rights. "They want to force the people to follow their way, so they pose a threat to society and religion, as well as national unity," the minister added.