TUNIS - Tunisia's government has granted a license to hardline Islamist group Hizb al-Tahrir to allow it to become a legal political party, making it the second such group to join the political mainstream after renouncing violence.

Hizb al-Tahrir is an international movement that seeks to re-establish the Caliphate, a defunct form of an Islamic empire. It does not endorse democracy nor take part in elections but is focused mostly on preaching.

The Salafi Islamist group is banned in several countries and was repressed in Tunisia before last year's revolution ousted secular dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and brought the current moderate Islamist Ennahda party into government.

Tunisia's secular elites accuse Ennahda of being too soft on hardliners. Ennahda says its strategy is to bring them into the political mainstream to avoid violent protest from the fringes.

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