At least 162 people have been arrested after days of rioting in several locations across the country by ultra-conservative Islamists known as Salafis, Tunisian officials told The Associated Press on Wednesday….Fehmi el-Aouini, 22, sustained a bullet wound to the head during the violence on Tuesday and became the first fatality in the three-day wave of unrest triggered by an art exhibit deemed offensive to Islam. — Al Arabiya
Several sources report that the work that inspired the violence is one that spells out the name of God using insects. My Google search came up empty, though. Best I can do is what I show here.
Nighttime curfews have also been imposed around the capital, as well as the cities of Sousse, Monastir, Jendouba and Ben Guerdane. The art gallery has since been closed by the government, which has objected to the content.
Yes, close the art gallery. In fact, make art galleries illegal. No, better yet, declare all art illegal unless granted an exemption by a religious agency. We must have order.
Tunisia has witnessed an upsurge of Salafi-inspired violence that in recent months have become violent, attacking police and judicial institutions. Tunisia’s top authorities Wednesday condemned both “extremist groups that threaten freedoms” and “attacks on religion” after rioting blamed on hardline Islamists over an art exhibition.
A joint statement by the heads of the state, the constituent assembly, and the government…warned against “plans by provocateurs and extremists to perturb authority and sow terror….Extremist groups are threatening freedoms, claim the right to substitute themselves for state institutions and try to bring places of worship under their control,” it charged. “These groups are infiltrated by criminals … the ghosts of the ousted regime are trying to block the process of transition.”
At the same time, however, “attacks on religion do not stem from freedom of expression (but) aims to provoke and sow discord as well as take advantage of a sensitive situation to stoke tension,” the statement said.
Aaah. The power of art. It inspires hoodlums to “perturb authority,” which in turn leads to joint statements by units of government deploring violence. Which is worse?
And all this because some artist spelled out “god” with insects? What’s the problem with insects? Isn’t the big guy supposed to be the god of all living things, including palmetto bugs and dung beetles?
Seeing yet another opportunity to promote his campaign, Mitt Romney released a statement deploring both the violence and religious-inspired attack on art, promising that when he is elected he’ll dispatch Mormon missionaries to the area to promote peace and understanding. “Just like what we’re doing here with Evangelists and the Obama campaign,” he explained. “We don’t offer anything new or special — just get them to see how the alternative is worse.”