Dubai: Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has urged Tunisians to rise up to demand the rule of Islamic law, slamming the ruling Ennahda Islamist party for "violating" sharia law, in a message posted online.
"O, honest and free Tunisians. The masks have dropped. Rise up to support your sharia," The Dawn quoted Ayman al-Zawahiri, as saying in an audio message posted on various websites.
"Call for a popular campaign advocating support for sharia and Islam and the rule of the Quran. Don`t settle for any alternative to sharia," he said.
Zawahiri criticised the ruling moderate Ennahda party for not calling for Islamic rule in the North African nation where demonstrations led to the flight of its long-serving president Zine El-Abidine bin Ali in December 2010, triggering Arab Spring uprisings across the Arab world.
"It is astonishing to find a leadership claiming to belong to Islam saying that it does not want to rule with it," he said.
"They are inventing an Islam that pleases the US State Department, the EU, and the sheikhdoms of the Gulf. It is an Islam upon request, that permits gambling clubs, nudist beaches, usury and secular laws," he added.
The moderate Ennahda party, legalised in March 2011, has refused to adopt fundamental sharia law, but some have voiced fears Islamist movements within the country, emboldened by the Ennahda victory, may try to restrict free expression and secular values, states the paper.
Zawahiri became al Qaeda`s chief after its Osama bin Laden, who was the world`s most wanted man, was killed in a US raid on a Pakistan hideout in May last year.