Police fire tear gas at slain politician Chokri Belaid's funeral
Saturday 09 February 2013
Supporters of Tunisia's ruling moderate Islamist party are being called to attend a pro-government rally a day after clashes between protesters and police, following the funeral of the opposition politician Chokri Belaid, whose assassination this week tipped the country to the edge of revolt.
The funeral brought the largest gathering in Tunis since the revolution two years ago. While many came to mourn, not protest, the mood turned to rage after a youth who had reportedly been attempting to loot cars clashed with police at the cemetery’s edge and police responded with tear gas.
Smoke and noxious gas drifted over the cemetery. “One can understand that they need to direct the crowd, but that gas comes here, menacing the well-being of people who are here to accompany [Mr Belaid], it’s unacceptable,” said Samir Bouktir, one of the participants in the procession.
Most businesses were shut yesterday after Tunisia’s largest labour union called a general strike, the first in more than thirty years as anger grew over the killing of Mr Belaid, who had criticised the Islamist government.
Noomane Fehri, from the opposition Republican Party, said the anger and chaos were indicative of the failure of the governing Ennahda party, which many hold responsible for not providing Mr Belaid with adequate security. “In one year, they’ve managed what took [former President] Ben Ali twenty-three,” Mr Fehri said.
The government is still trying to forge a political solution, after an offer by Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali to dissolve the government on Wednesday was rejected by President Moncef Marzouki.
Mr Belaid was the first politician killed in Tunisia in over 60 years. The assassination provoked anger, sending thousands into the streets on Wednesday. Much of the anger was directed against the Ennahda party, who saw their headquarters attacked or burned in cities such as Gafsa, Kef, and Monastir.
The murdered politician had been a harsh critic of what he saw as the laxity of Ennahda to the violence of extremist groups, particularly the so-called Leagues for the Protection of the Revolution, a network of volunteers who had been known to intimidate opposition supporters.
But today the ruling Ennahda party has called supporters to gather in central Tunis this afternoon to show support for the constitutional assembly whose work on a new constitution suffered a severe setback when opposition parties withdrew their participation.
Ennahda said the demonstration would also protest against "French interference" after comments earlier in the week by French Foreign Minister Manuel Valls, who denounced the killing as an attack on "the values of Tunisia's Jasmine revolution."
- 1 Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC
- 3 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 4 A third of employers never check job applicants' qualifications, survey finds
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...
£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...
£45000 - £55000 per annum: Harrington Starr: UNIX Application Support Analyst-...