Tunisian officials decry anti-Semitic chants at rally


(JTA) — Tunisia’s Religious Affairs Ministry condemned anti-Semitic epithets shouted at a rally in Tunis calling for the imposition of Islamic law in the country’s new constitution.

"The call to fight against the Jews is absurd," the ministry said in a statement issued Tuesday, according to the French news agency AFP. "The ministry rejects this attack against all Tunisian citizens. Tunisian Jews are full citizens."

A new constitution is being drafted for the country, which has a population of 10 million, mostly Muslims. About 1,500 Jews reportedly live in Tunisia. 

The rally Sunday held by radical Islamist Salafists called for the imposition of Shariah, or Islamic law, over all of the country’s legislation. In the Oct. 24 elections in Tunisia, the relatively moderate Islamist Ennahda Party won 90 seats, making it the largest bloc in the 217-member assembly.

Several of Tunisia’s political parties also denounced the attacks on the Jewish community, according to AFP.

The leftist Ettajdid party in a statement Tuesday condemned "the calls to violence, hatred and even murder from fanatical Salafi groups that have again targeted citizens of the Jewish faith," AFP reported.

Roger Bismuth, president of Tunisia’s Jewish community, met Tuesday with Tunisian Constituent Assembly Speaker Mustapha Ben Jafar, who reportedly condemned the verbal attacks and called for their end.

Bismuth reportedly has threatened to sue a Salafist preacher who during Sunday’s demonstration shouted "young people rise up, let’s wage a war against the Jews" to cheers from the crowd.

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