Second man dies after clashes between Tunisian Salafis, police

TUNIS Wed Oct 31, 2012 12:08pm EDT

TUNIS Oct 31 (Reuters) - A second man died on Wednesday of wounds suffered when Tunisian police opened fire on hardline Salafi Muslim protesters in the capital Tunis, the state news agency said.

A struggle over the role of religion in government and society has emerged as the most divisive issue in Tunisia, for decades seen as among the most secular in the Arab world, since a popular uprising ended autocratic rule last year.

"A second man, named Khaled Karoui, died today of his wounds after yesterday's clash ... in the Dawar Hicher (district of Tunis)," TAP news agency said.

A security source said late on Tuesday that one person was killed in clashes that followed an assault by hundreds of Salafis on a police station to protest at the arrest of a Salafi accused of attacking a police chief with a knife.

The violence was the latest sign of religious tension in the North African state where the "Arab Spring" democracy movements took off.

Tunisia, whose authoritarian president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, was overthrown in a street revolt last year, now has an elected Islamist-led government.

But friction has grown between Islamists and secularists since the Islamist Ennahda Movement won an election.

Ennahdha, a moderate Islamic group, formed a coalition with two non-religious parties and has promised not to ban alcohol, impose the veil or use sharia as the basis of Tunisian law.

But it has come under pressure from both hardline Salafi Muslims calling for the introduction of sharia and secular opposition parties determined to prevent this. (Reporting By Tarek Amara; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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