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Tunisian imams to appeal government move to close 'illegal' mosques

Tunisia's Council of Ministers closed 80 'illegal' mosques in the wake of last month's deadly beach shooting
A Tunisian Muslim worshipper reads the Koran, Islam's holy book, following the Friday prayer at al-Fath mosque (AFP)

Muslim clerics in the Tunisian city of Sfax on Saturday said they planned to appeal a recent government decision to close 80 of the nation’s mosques in the wake of last month’s deadly attack on foreign tourists.

At a conference at the Al-Lakhmi Mosque attended by dozens of imams and clerics – along with some 2,000 other attendees – Imam Reda al-Jawada said the city’s imams planned to appeal the decision in court.

Al-Jawadi described the measure as “unjust” while also denouncing last month’s deadly attack, which, he asserted, “bore no relation to Islam" in spite of the Islamic State group's proclaimed adherence to Islam.

On 26 June, a gunman opened fire on a crowded beach in Sousse, killing at least 38 foreign tourists – mostly British nationals – before being shot dead by police.

In the wake of the attack, Tunisia’s Council of Ministers adopted a raft of security measures, including the closure of 80 “illegal” mosques.

On Saturday, President Beji Caid Essebsi declared a 30-day countrywide state of emergency.