Home firebombed during anti-“Persepolis” protest

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Tunisian extremists firebombed the home of a TV station’s chief late Friday to protest a broadcast of the Oscar-nominated 2007 animated film Persepolis.

About a hundred men besieged the home of Nabil Karoui, the head of private television channel Nessma, the station reported in its evening news bulletin. Some tossed Molotov cocktails at the home, located in the national capital of Tunis.

Karoui’s family had just managed to escape, the station added.

Critics accuse the French film — which is about Iran’s 1979 revolution — of being blasphemous for including an image of God.

One of the station’s major reporters, Sofiane Ben Hmida, told Agence France-Presse that the station chief was away from home when his house was attacked at about 7 p.m. local time. However, his wife and children were there, and about 20 of the protesters managed to get inside.

“The family managed to get out the back and are safe. The attackers wrecked the house and set it on fire,” he said.

About 100 people showed up outside the house, forced their way in, broke the windows and tore out two gas pipes, Tunisian interior ministry spokesman Hichem Meddeb told AFP. He added that five people had been arrested.

Hours earlier, police in Tunis fired tear gas at hundreds of Islamists demonstrating against a broadcast of the film.

Demonstrators in the capital rallied against the private Nessma TV channel, which angered Islamists by screening Persepolis. They were irate about fantasy scenes in the film in which God is depicted talking to a young girl.

Conservative Muslim Salafists made up the bulk of the protesters.

Karoui apologized Tuesday for airing the film.

However, many preachers at local mosques devoted their Friday sermons on the controversy.

The protest began peacefully following Friday prayers at a central Tunis mosque. Hundreds of people shouted “Allahu Akbar” (“God is greatest”) and demanded that Islamic law be imposed in Tunisia.

The crowd then approached the Casbah district of central Tunis, where caretaker Prime Minister Beji Caid Sebsi has his office. According to a Reuters reporter on the scene, some groups tried to break through police lines.

In an effort to disperse the crowd, riot police fired tear gas and moved in with their batons. In turn, the protesters threw stones at police.

Police pursued several demonstrators who took refuge in a local mosque, said an AFP journalist.

Most crowd members dispersed after about half an hour. A few hundred young men were left and were still throwing objects at police.

Islamists held separate protests in several locations around the capital, witnesses told Reuters.

“Here in Tunisia, you can insult Allah, but you cannot insult Sebsi or the government… and if you do, you pay dearly. That’s not right,” said one protester.

Tunisians vote next week for a constitutional assembly.

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About Paul Anderson

Paul is an old-timer here at BCDB- his contributions go back to before the site! Paul is widely regarded as a Disney historian, and is also on staff at the Disney Museum in San Francisco. Paul is also a contributing historian for D23, the Disney Club. Paul has published several books and magazine articles on Disney history, too. You are welcome to drop Paul a line here.

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