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LE MONDE, LE COURRIER DE L'ATLAS (France), AFP

Worldcrunch

TUNIS - A Tunisian university dean risks a five year prison sentence for allegedly slapping a student who refused to take off her veil, Le Monde reports.

The case is the latest development in the bitter row at Manouba University between secularists and Salafi students who follow an ultraconservative strand of Islam. Habib Kazdaghli, dean of arts, letters and humanities at the university outside of Tunis has been fiercely opposed to Salafi plans to impose prayer rooms and full-face veils for women on campus.

A Salafi student filed a complaint against Kazdaghli, accusing him of assaulting her in his office. The dean denies the charges, claiming two young women ransacked his office, one of whom he realised had been expelled for six months after refusing to take off her niqab.

Le Courrier de l'Atlas reported that more than 200 people demonstrated outside the court on Thursday to express their support for Kazdaghli.

The AFP reported that a local human rights lawyer, Mohamed Hedi Laabidi accused the Islamist-dominated government of being involved in the case: "It's a set-up because the dean refuses to sign up to a model of society that is contrary to modernity."

The trial was postponed on Thursday July, and was rescheduled to October 25. At first facing just 15 days in prison for simple assault, the charges have been toughened due to the fact that Kazdaghli was on duty as an official civil servant.

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