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Merkel cancels Tunisia visit amid reported security fears

Chancellor Merkel cancels trip to Tunisia due to fears of riots sparked by anti-Islam film

AFP , Thursday 27 Sep 2012
Angela Merkel
German Chancellor Angela Merkel .(Photo: Reuters)
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel has cancelled a planned trip to Tunisia next month, a spokesman said Thursday, amid reported security concerns over bloody unrest in the Arab world.

A spokesman from her office confirmed a report in the daily Financial Times Deutschland (FTD) that the German leader had axed the visit "by mutual agreement" with the Tunisian government.

He declined to comment on the planned date for the trip, cited in the report as October 9, nor the reason for the postponement given by the FTD, which referred to the "tense security situation" in the North African country.

An attack by hardline Islamist radicals on the US embassy in Tunis on September 14 left four people dead and dozens wounded.

On the same day, a mob set the German embassy in Khartoum ablaze as demonstrations over an anti-Islam film swept the Muslim world.

Tunisian President Hamadi Jebali had visited Berlin in March and Merkel assured him of Germany's support for the country's attempts to develop a functioning democracy.

Merkel told supporters from her conservative party late Wednesday that Islam was part of German society and called for mutual religious tolerance.

"We should be very open about this -- it is a part of us," she said, referring to Germany's four-million-strong Muslim community, in remarks published by local news agency DPA.

"Times have changed since we had practically no Muslims in Germany."

But she added the violent uproar over the video mocking the Prophet Mohammed should not become an excuse for anti-Islamic prejudice.

"The Islamists are not Islam in Germany," she said, adding "one must be incredibly careful that we don't put everyone in the same boat".

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