Tunisian Islamists protest French-Jewish philosopher’s visit


(JTA) — Dozens of Tunisian Islamists protested a visit to their country by the French-Jewish philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, whom they called a Zionist agent.

The Islamists greeted Levy, a celebrity writer in his native France, with a protest rally at Tunis’ Carthage airport on Oct. 31, the Le Parisien daily reported.

“No to Zionist power in Tunisia” and “Get lost,” the protesters yelled at Levy, who left the North African country on Monday.

His visit came in the wake of the country’s second free parliamentary election since the 2011 overthrow of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in a revolution that sparked a string of revolutions across the Arab world.

The Islamist Ennahda party, once the country’s largest after its victory in the first free election, suffered a stinging defeat in the Oct. 26 election to the secularist Nida Tounes, which won 85 seats in the next 217-seat chamber.

Some Tunisian media reported that Levy fled the country because of the protests, but he denied the reports in an interview published Monday in Le Point.

“A few dozen Islamists, perhaps exiled pro-Ghadafi activists, waited for me at the airport and inveighed against a Zionist placing his dirty feet on Tunisian soil,” he said.

While he downplayed that event, Levy, the son of Algerian immigrants to France, added that “the issue, to the extent that there is one, is what followed in the newsrooms and social networks: Within hours, I had become at best – and I mean in reputable newspapers – a ‘Jewish intellectual’ or “ Zionist agent’ who had come singlehandedly to sow disorder and dissent in the young Tunisian democracy.”

Blogs, meanwhile, described Levy as a “dog, vermin” and “vampire who had come to drink Arab blood,” he complained.

Last year, Levy, who supported France’s military intervention in Libya, was barred from visiting there because he is Jewish.

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