TUNIS - A group of Salafists disrupted classes on Monday at a university west of the capital Tunis, demanding a stop to mixed-sex classes and for female students to wear full face veils, officials said.
The mob of Salafists also took hostage the dean of the University of Letters, Arts, and Humanities of Manouba along with several other professors.
One of the professors who witnessed the protest said the group threatened him and verbally abused other professors. The professor called on the protection of the army, but no security forces had yet been confirmed arrived.
"A group of Salafists, dressed like the Afghans, have been camped in front of my office since early afternoon," Habib Kazdaghli, the dean of faculty at the University of Manuba, said.
The group of several dozen students interrupted an English class in the morning, Kazdaghli said.
"They want girls to wear the niqab, a mosque in the middle of the campus, a stop to mixed classes and a prohibition of women teaching male students and vice versa," he said, adding that it marked the first such incident on campus.
Tunisia's Salafists have become more assertive in recent months, following the revolution that ousted a staunchly secular regime along with president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali in January following mass protests.
The ministry of higher education "firmly" condemned the incident, saying that "all recourse to violence is inadmissible and intolerable."
In regards to policies concerning the niqab, a ministry spokesperson said that "according to current regulations, each student must be able to be identified before accessing the university, for pedagogic and security reasons."
Visible again on the streets of Tunis and other major cities, their new assertiveness has led to a number of more or less violent clashes.
In the eastern city of Sousse earlier this month, some 200 Islamists stormed the university campus after a female student wearing the niqab, or burka, full face veil was not allowed to sign up.
On October 9 in Tunis, a mob of Salafists tried to attack the offices of private Nessma TV station that aired "Persepolis", a French-Iranian animation film.