Thousands of Tunisians demonstrated outside parliament on Friday, demanding the inclusion of Islamic Sharia law in the country's new constitution.
AFP - Several thousand men and women demonstrated outside the Tunisian parliament on Friday to demand the inclusion of Islamic law in the north African country's future constitution.
"The people want the application of God's sharia", "Our Koran is our constitution", "No constitution without sharia," and "Tunisia is neither secular nor scientific, it is an Islamic state", cried the protesters, drawn mainly from the Islamist Salafist movement.
Some men climbed on the roof of the building and unfurled a banner that read: "The people belong to God."
Several women sported the niqab, or full-face veils.
Tunisia's moderate Islamist leaders, who took power following last year's ouster of strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali after a popular uprising, are under pressure from a radical Muslim fringe.
The ultra-conservative Salafists have in recent months demanded full-face veils for female university students, castigated a TV channel for an allegedly blasphemous film and beaten up journalists at a protest.
"We are here today to peacefully demand the application of sharia in the new constitution. We will not impose anything by force on the Tunisian people, we just want that the people are convinced of the principles," said Marwan, a 24-year-old trader.
An engineer, who refused to give his name, added: "A Muslim should live under the tenets of Islamic law. The secularists would have one believe that Islam chops off the hands of thieves but... one must study Islam. The West has failed."
Tunisia adopted a provisional constitution in December and is currently drafting a new one which is due to be completed around the middle of next year.