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Thousands protest Tunisian union amid tensions

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December 8, 2012 07:28 PM EST | AP


TUNIS, Tunisia — ?Tens of thousands of hardline Muslims took to the streets across Tunisia to show support for the ruling party and protest a general strike called by the country's most powerful labor union.

The moderate Islamist Ennahda party and the UGTT union are at loggerheads, a dispute that descended into days of riots recently as Tunisians vented their frustration over the country's stagnant economy. Many blame Ennahda for doing too little to reduce unemployment and curb police abuses – the same complaints that drove Tunisia's revolution.

On Saturday, protests led by imams called for a purge of the union and for the implementation of Sharia law.

While the protesters were showing support for Ennahda, the party has also been under pressure from hardline Muslims who think it is too moderate.