Salafists raid Tunisian hotel bar for serving alcohol

Tunisian Salafists shout slogans claiming an Islamic state as they stage a demonstration on March 25, 2012 in Tunis Some of the most radical branches of the ultra-conservative Salafists seek Sharia law

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Muslim hardliners known as Salafists have attacked a hotel in the Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid because its bar still served alcohol, reports say.

Dozens of activists smashed bottles and chased away customers at the Horchani hotel, news agencies reported.

The sale and drinking of alcohol is legal in Tunisia, which is popular with foreign tourists.

The country has witnessed a resurgence of Islamist hardliners recently since the overthrow of President Ben Ali.

The central Sidi Bouzid is the cradle of Tunisia's revolution, which ended secular rule and triggered the Arab Spring.

Threats

Hotel owner Jamil Horchani told Reuters the Salafists "attacked the hotel on Monday night and smashed all its contents. They entered the rooms and damaged furniture and smashed bottles of alcohol."

They had previously threatened to attack the hotel if he did not stop serving alcoholic drinks, he said.

In May, Salafists in Sidi Bouzid staged an anti-alcohol protest demanding that hotels and bars be relocated outside the town, some 300km (186 miles) west of the capital Tunis.

The Tunisian uprising in January 2011 unseated veteran President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and inspired a wave of pro-democracy movements across North Africa and the Middle East.

But since the government's overthrow, Salafist fundamentalists have been gaining in power.

The movement's most radical branches are demanding the reintroduction of Sharia law into Tunisia.

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