Thousands of government supporters led by Islamists demonstrated on Friday in the Tunisian capital to demand the country be “cleansed” of corrupt figures from the previous regime.
The rally outside Islamist Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali’s offices followed a call on social networks by supporters of his Ennahda movement.
“People want the country cleansed!” and “Tunisia is free from the RCD,” the former ruling party of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the demonstrators chanted.
Lotfi Zitoun, an advisor to the premier, was the only representative of the government at the rally, which Ennahda denied organising and that was held without police authorisation.
“This government needs your support,” Zitoun told the crowd.
The rally was held as Islamists face accusations by opposition and civil society groups of cracking down on freedom of the press.
TV channel hear Sami Fehri gave himself up to the authorities on Thursday under an arrest warrant, claiming this was ordered in retaliation for a political satire show his station aired.
Official news agency TAP has said Fehri was being charged with “illegal use of Tunisian state television resources” during Ben Ali’s rule.
The authorities say they want to “clean up” the system of accomplices of the fallen regime. Fehri was an associate of Belhassen Trabelsi, the exiled brother-in-law of Ben Ali. Trabelsi has fled to Canada.