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More shrines torched in Tunisia

Tunis - Two Sufi mausoleums were torched in Tunisia on Thursday, police and media reported, in the latest violence the mystical Muslim sect claims is being carried out by ultra-conservative Salafist Muslims.

The Sidi Ali Ben Salem mausoleum in the south-western region of Gabes was totally destroyed by fire, police said.

In the southern region of Douz, the Sidi Ahmed al-Ghout mausoleum was also set on fire and the tomb of the saint buried there profaned, the official TAP news agency said.

Sufi officials in Tunisia put the blame on Salafists, accusing them of a systematic campaign to destroy Sufi sanctuaries.

On Wednesday, they said another one of their shrines in Tunisia had been torched the day before, also blaming Salafists.

“The people behind all the attacks are Wahhabis,” a Salafist branch of Islam rooted in Saudi Arabia, said Mazen Sherif, the deputy head of a Sufi union set up to counter the attacks on Wednesday.

“This is just the beginning. They will go on to destroy the (Roman) sites in Carthage, El Jem and Duga. Then they will force men to grow beards and women to wear the full veil,” he said.

According to the union, which urged Tunisia's Islamist-led government to take effective action, such attacks are financed from abroad.

Since the early centuries of Islam, Sufi orders have always aroused suspicion among orthodox Muslims. - Sapa-AFP

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