Tunisia erupts in renewed protests after opposition leader Mohamed Brahmi is killed

Killing could derail fragile democracy in birthplace of the Arab Spring

Tunis

Thousands have taken to the streets across Tunisia to protest the killing of opposition politician Mohamed Brahmi in the capital Tunis – a development that threatens to derail a transition to democracy in the birthplace of the Arab Spring.

Mr Brahmi, the leader of the opposition Movement of the People party, was gunned down outside his home in front of his wife and youngest daughter. It was the second assassination of an opposition politician this year, coming just five months after the killing of Chokri Belaid, a prominent secular MP.

Mr Brahmi was a member of the National Constituent Assembly, which is finalising the drafting of the new constitution for Tunisia. His party is a member of the left-leaning Popular front coalition, to which Mr Belaid also belonged.

Mr Belaid’s death, the first of its kind in Tunisia, shocked the country and led to widespread protests. His funeral was attended by tens of thousands of people. Mr Brahmi was a vocal critic of the ruling Ennahda party, a moderate Islamist party which became part of the government following the overthrow of Tunisia’s former leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011.

Divisions between Islamists and their secular opponents have deepened since the popular uprising against Ben Ali, which unleashed unrest across the Arab world, unseating rulers in Egypt, Libya and Yemen, and leading to a civil war in Syria.

The opposition has accused the government of not doing enough to crack down on radical Islamists. Among those who took to the streets in central Tunis to protest today, many were pointing fingers at the Ennahda party, calling its members “terrorists” and “vampires”.

At the Ministry of Interior, demonstrators shouted slogans against Rached Ghannouchi, leader of Tunisia's ruling party Ennahda.  “Ghannouchi is a murderer”, the crowd shouted.

Similar demonstrations erupted in the southern town of Sidi Bouzid, where protesters set fire to two local Ennahda party offices.

Mr Ghannouchi expressed his sorrow at the killing via his party’s Facebook page this afternoon.  “We heard, with immense sadness and shock, the news of the assassination of politician and member of the national constituent assembly Mohamed Brahmi, today. We condemn this cowardly and despicable crime. We pray for the soul of martyr Mohamed Brahmi and present our sincere condolences to his family, praying that God grants them patience,” he wrote. His condemnation was echoed by other members of his party, who called the killing an “attack on democracy”.

“All that I can tell you is that it is the assassination of Tunisia, it’s the assassination of legality, it’s the assassination of the democratic process, it’s the assassination of the transition,” said Hela Hammi, a member of the Tunisian Constituent Assembly’s bureau and a member of the Ennahda party.

Tunisia’s political transition has been relatively peaceful, with the moderate Islamist Ennahda party sharing power with smaller secular parties. But the government has struggled to revive a stuttering economy and has come under fire from secularists who accuse it of failing to curb the activities of radical Salafi Islamists.

The government blamed Mr Belaid’s assassination on Salafi militants.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
News
Stephen Hawking is reportedly taking steps to trademark his name
people
Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins win the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Inside Sales Executive - Software & Hardware Automation

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This market leading hardware an...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Planner

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen withi...

Recruitment Genius: CAD Technician - Structural Engineering

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are Consulting Str...

Recruitment Genius: Account Executive

£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Account Executive is require...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor