Tunisia martyr's mother held after court fracas

The mother of Mohamed Bouazizi, the street vendor whose self-immolation unleashed the popular uprising that led to president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali's ouster in 2011, was arrested on Friday, an AFP journalist said.

Manoubia Bouazizi, 60, was detained in a court in the central western town of Sidi Bouzid after an altercation with a judge, said a prosecutor who ordered her arrest.

The uprising in Tunisia was sparked in December 2010 when her son Mohamed, a 26-year-old who was complaining of unemployment, set himself on fire.

On Friday, another son, Salem, said his mother argued with a clerk of the court, not the judge, who embarrassed her and pushed her towards the exit, at which point the two exchanged insults.

"My mother was humiliated. The authorities must learn to respect people. We're not going to let this go," Salem Bouazizi told AFP by telephone.

He said his mother had been at the courthouse to sign documents that would allow her to receive government compensation awarded to "martyrs of the revolution."

"They had made her come to the court for three days in a row with nothing to show for it," Bouazizi said.

The prosecutor opened an investigation and was still interviewing witnesses six hours after Mrs. Bouazizi's arrest.

She "threatened to set fire to the court," according to the testimony of one witness received by AFP.

Mrs. Bouazizi now faces being charged with insulting an official in the carrying out of his duties, according to one lawyer.

-AFP/NOW Lebanon