TUNIS - Secular politicians in Tunisia said on Thursday that a leaked video of a secret meeting between the leader of the ruling Islamist party and puritanical Salafis showed the government was not the moderate Islamist force it claimed to be.

In the video, Ennahda party leader Rached Ghannouchi is heard discussing which parts of the state have fallen into the hands of Islamists and advising Salafis on where they should focus their efforts to spread their influence further.

The footage has angered liberals who say Salafis threaten human rights in a country once seen as a beacon of Arab secularism, but which is now under siege from religious hardliners who have attacked cinemas and artistic performances, arguing that they violate Islam.

Salafis also led an attack on the US embassy in Tunis last month that killed four people, after an anti-Islam film made in California sparked anger across the region.

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