Tunisia's ruling Islamist party Ennahda and the opposition marked the 57th anniversary of landmark women's rights legislation with rival rallies Tuesday in Tunis, dpa reported.
The Women's Day rallies were the latest in a series of competing demonstrations by the government and opposition since the July 25 assassination of opposition legislator Mohamed Brahmi.
The opposition is demanding that the Islamist-led assembly and coalition in place since October 2011 resign and that a cabinet of technocrats run the country until elections, which the government has announced for December.
Ennahda has rejected that call and offered to form a government of national unity.
Thousands of anti-government demonstrators took part in a march from central Tunis to parliament buildings in the suburb of Bardo, where a group of opposition deputies and activists have been holding a sit-in since July 27.
"Equality between men and women in the law and before the law," read one of the placards waved by the protesters, who shouted "Degage" (Get lost) and "The people want the fall of the regime" - slogans used against ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.
At the same time in central Tunis, a group of ruling party supporters were marking Women's Day with prayers and speeches defending the country's democratic transition from a would-be, Egypt-style "coup."
"The Tunisian woman is with elections and against the toppling of the government," read a sign waved by one Ennahda supporter.
Women's Day commemorates the enactment of the 1956 Personal Status Code, a series of laws promulgated by Tunisia's founding president Habib Bourguiba banning polygamy and giving women rights to equal pay and education, among other gains.
The code made Tunisia the most socially progressive country in the Arab world, but many Tunisians feel that heritage is under threat.
The opposition accuses Ennahda of trying to roll back women's rights by floating proposed constitutional changes that would weaken the status of women and taking a ambivalent approach towards ultraconservative Salafi groups.
Divisions between Islamists and secularists in the small country that led the Arab Spring have widened since Brahmi's assassination.
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