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Tunisia: Female Free Destourian Party supporters demand closure of IUMS branch

Free Destourian(constitutional) Party candidate for the September 15 presidential election, Abir Moussi speaks during an exclusive interview in Tunis, Tunisia on August 30, 2019 [Nacer Talel / Anadolu Agency]
Free Destourian(constitutional) Party candidate for the September 15 presidential election, Abir Moussi speaks during an exclusive interview in Tunis, Tunisia on August 30, 2019 [Nacer Talel / Anadolu Agency]

Dozens of female supporters of the Tunisian Free Destourian Party have on Friday demanded that the authorities shut down the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) branch for allegedly spreading ideologies of "extremism and fundamentalism".

This came during a protest rally called for by the party last Monday, in front of the IUMS headquarters in Tunis, under the slogan "Tunisia's Women are Angry", in the presence of movement leader Abir Moussi.

The demonstrators chanted slogans against the UIMS, while security forces placed iron barriers and deployed officers to prevent the protesters from reaching the organisation's headquarters.

In a speech she delivered during the protest, Moussi asserted: "There is no way to return to the previous system, and preserving the rights of Tunisian women is irreversible."

The party's deputy Majdi Bouthina told Anadolu Agency: "Despite the fact that the party has met all requirements to organise the protest, the security forces imposed a cordon and prevented the demonstrators from practising their right."

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On 11 March, security forces dispersed a sit-in staged by the party in front of the IUMS headquarters, beginning in November 2020, to demand the closure of the organisation branch. This came when the Tunisian judiciary rejected a lawsuit filed by the Free Destourian Party to suspend the IUMS's activities in the country.

The IUMS has not yet commented on the demonstration in front of its headquarters. However, on Wednesday, it condemned being continuously exposed to slander and smear campaigns by the Free Destourian Party.

The IUMS announced in a statement issued that it "lawfully exercises its activity in accordance with the law," stressing that the organisation: "Places itself, as always, in a position of full transparency and at the disposal of the concerned authorities to monitor and verify the safety of its activity legally, administratively and financially, pledging full compliance with all decisions and directives of the authorities."

Two weeks ago, Moussi called on Tunisian President Kais Saied to close the IUMS's headquarters for allegedly adopting "extremist and fundamentalist" approaches.

The IUMS was founded in Dublin, Ireland, in 2004, and its headquarters was moved in 2011 to the Qatari capital, Doha.

According to its website, the union's goals centre on rejecting intolerance of ethnic, regional or sectarian considerations, calling for reform and conflict resolution and the principled support for the peoples' right to reform and freedom of expression.

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