A new wave of radical Islamist attacks has prompted Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki to extend the country's state of emergency through January.
"Marzouki decided Wednesday to extend the state of emergency by three months from November 2012,” announced the official TAP news agency. According to the statement, the extension was recommended by military and security officials, the AFP news agency reported. The ruling moderate Islamic Ennahda party issued its own statement Wednesday as well, appealing for calm and saying, “The state has a a right to deal with all threats to social peace.”
The move came following a riot by an Islamist mob armed with knives in the streets of the capital, Tunis, on Wednesday. The riots were the latest in a series of attacks perpetrated by Muslim extremists over the past several weeks.
One day earlier, Islamists raided two National Guard posts in the Tunis suburb of Manouba and clashed with security forces. One of the attackers was killed, according to the Interior Ministry, in a clash that followed the arrest by police of a Salafi Muslim suspected of attacking a local security chief.
The country has continued to struggle over its identity following the overthrow of its former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali Ben in January 2011 in what became known as the Jasmine Revolution, the uprising that launched the region-wide Arab Spring uprisings.
On September 14, thousands of raging Muslims attacked the U.S. embassy in Tunis, ripping down the American flag, torching the building, the American school next door and two school buses parked in the complex. Four of the rioters were killed in the chaos that followed. The embarrassed Tunisian government, which has been walking a tightrope between secularists, moderates and fundamentalists, vowed to crack down on Islamist extremism.
Last week, a Tunisian court sentenced a senior member of the Islamic Ansar al-Shari'a terror group to one year in prison after he was found of guilty of inciting and encouraging the attack. The man’s attorney has announced that he plans to appeal the decision.