Summary: Houcine Laabidi, Chairman of the Scientific Committee at the renowned and centuries-old Zitouna mosque in downtown Tunis, made incendiary comments regarding the Al Abdellia art exposition during Friday prayer on June 15, 2012. Laabidi said that the artists were infidels [Kuffar] and deserved to be put to death.
Laabidi's statements were condemned by Ennahdha member and Minister of Religious Affairs, Nourredine Khadmi. Khadmi's advisor, Ali Lafi, told radio station Mosaique FM, "What Laabidi said does not represent the Ministry of Religious Affairs. On the contrary, we condemn what he said. He is the only one responsible for this decision. Inciting violence is a crime punishable and proscribed by law and the ministry will act upon that." Lafi said that Laabidi would be suspended from serving at the mosque and that the judiciary branch of government would be responsible for evaluating Laabidi's statements and serving justice.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs released a press statement at the same time reiterating its authority over mosque activity, including, as Tunisia Live notes, its right to hire and dismiss all mosque personnel as the Ministry sees fit.