Tunisian women rally to defend rights against Islamists

November 3, 2011 17:40

TUNIS - Tunisia's secularist women are mobilizing to defend their western lifestyle after the Islamist Ennahda party swept the country's first free election and claimed almost all the seats won by women in the new assembly.

Groups of women are now lobbying the political parties to protect a pioneering 1956 law granting them full equality with men and to counter growing pressure from radical Muslims keen to push them back into traditional roles.

University lecturers in Tunis, women and men, staged a short strike on Thursday to protest against radicals who - encouraged by Ennahda's strong showing in the Oct. 23 poll - have been harassing women teachers to dress more modestly.

About 500 women responded to calls on Facebook to protest in the capital's government quarter on Wednesday and were granted a short meeting with interim Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi to present their demands.

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