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Art exhibition with 'Allah' spelled in ants prompts riots

June 13, 2012|By David Ng
  • Demonstrators clash with police earlier this week near Tunis.
Demonstrators clash with police earlier this week near Tunis. (Agence France Presse )

A recent art exhibition in Tunisia that some claim was insulting to Muslims has provoked new riots in the streets of the capital city of Tunis this week.

The provocative exhibition was the annual Le Printemps des Arts, the Northern African country's largest visual arts show, which took place in the Tunis suburb of La Marsa. The exhibition featured a work that spelled out the word "Allah" with a string of ants, as well as other pieces that depicted the city of Mecca, according to reports from the BBC News and Reuters.

Radio France International has reported that some of the controversial works were vandalized and that some of the artists were assaulted by rioters. More than 160 people have been arrested and about 100 have been injured, according to RFI.

Tuesday's riots in Tunis were reportedly led by ultra-conservative Salafi Islamists who threw rocks and gasoline bombs at police stations and government buildings. Thousands of protesters took to the streets on Tuesday, prompting officials to issue a curfew in provinces throughout the country.

Tunisia was the epicenter of the recent Arab Spring protests, a wave of political demonstrations in the Arab world that saw the fall of the country's president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, as well as the ousting of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and the death of Libyan leader Muammar Kadafi.

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