x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Tunis university faculty closes after student violence

A university faculty in Tunis said it closed today after violent confrontations between students close to Tunisia's ruling Islamist party and activists with the main student union.

TUNIS // A university faculty in Tunis said it closed today after violent confrontations between students close to Tunisia's ruling Islamist party and activists with the main student union.

"The science council (at the faculty of human and social sciences) has decided to suspend courses for three days following the violence that occurred on Wednesday inside the university," a source at the faculty said.

"Some students from the General Union of Tunisian Students quarrelled with a group of Nahdawi students (belonging to the Islamist party Ennahda). The argument quickly degenerated," faculty dean Noureddine Kridiss told Tunisian daily La Presse.

"Around 30 people from outside the establishment, armed with clubs and knives, arrived to support the second group of students," he added.

The pro-Ennahda students, in a statement, denied they had initiated the attack, which took place at an informal meeting of the student union.

"A wave of violence swept through the university on Wednesday, after the aggression by activists from the General Union of Tunisian Students (UGTE), accompanied by a group from outside carrying knives and tear gas canisters."

They said two of their members were wounded.

Teaching Minister Moncef Ben Salam criticised the decision to suspend courses at the faculty, telling radio Mosaique FM that there was "nothing to fear" on the university campus.

Tunisia has witnessed numerous attacks by Salafists since the revolution last year that toppled former dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

A group of Islamist hardliners angered by a US-made film mocking their religion attacked the US embassy and an adjacent American school last month, in a day of violence that left four people dead and some 50 wounded.