Tunisian TV chief in blasphemy row says home attacked

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The owner of a Tunisian television station at the centre of a blasphemy row said a group of about 100 hardline Islamists had attacked his home and tried to burn it down.

Police fired tear gas earlier on Friday to break up a protest of several thousand people led by Salafists, or followers of a strict interpretation of Islam, angry over a film broadcast by the Nessma private television station. The crowd tried to force their way into the prime minister’s office.

The owner of the station told Reuters a group of protesters later showed up outside his home in the north of the capital where he was staying with his family, Reuters reports.
“Nearly a hundred people, Salafists, attacked my house with tear gas bombs,” said Nabil Karoui. “They tried to set fire to the house… They smashed everything up.”

He said the attackers had now left and that several dozen police had arrived to protect the property. “We are in a state of horror,” he said by telephone.

Tensions between Islamists and secularists are already running high ahead of a landmark election next week. The tension spilled over into violence this week after Nessma broadcast the award-winning animated film “Persepolis.”

The movie includes a scene in which Allah is depicted, something which is forbidden in Islam. Nessma issued an apology for broadcasting the sequence, but that failed to defuse the row.