Tunisia sacks minister after controversial statements on Wahhabism

Tunisia sacks minister after controversial statements on Wahhabism
United Bank for Africa

The Tunisian government sacked its minister of religious affairs on Friday, a day after he made controversial statements on Saudi Wahhabism, a statement by the Tunisian government said.

It said that Abdeljelil Salem was dismissed from his duties after he disrespected the principles of public office as well as making comments that do not conform to Tunisian diplomacy.

In a speech before the rights and freedoms committee in parliament on Thursday,  Salem held Wahhabism responsible for the spread of terrorism and extremism.

He called on Islamic scholars in Saudi Arabia to take steps towards religious reform.

“I said to the Saudi ambassador and the secretary general of the Arab interior ministers, who happened to be Saudi: reform your school as, historically, terrorism graduated from it,” he said.

Wahhabism, adopted mainly in Saudi Arabia, is known for having a strict, ultraconservative interpretation of Islam.

Shortly after Salem’s comments, the Ministry of Religious Affairs confirmed in a statement that its relations with Saudi Arabia are marked by “harmony and cooperation,” and are strong enough not to be influenced by any factors.

“The ministry affirms its respect for all Islamic doctrines while being keen on clinging to our country’s doctrine and culture,” the ministry said.

The minister for justice has taken over Salem’s duties until a new minister is named.

This is the first dismissal from the new government that took office in August.