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Tunisia: Islamists Agree to Leave Office Before the End of the Month.

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Protest at assassination of Tunisian leftist leader Mohammed Brahmi .

Latest news: Tunisia deal to bring end to Islamist rule.

“Tunisia’s political rivals have agreed on a timetable for the Islamist-led ruling coalition to quit and be replaced by a government of independents.

The Islamist Ennahda party and opposition groups in the country signed a roadmap aimed at creating a new government within three weeks.”

More in Al Jazeera.

The Islamist Ennahda party, which heads the Tunisian government vowed on Saturday afternoon to step down before the end of October to resolve a deep political crisis. This comes two years after their  victory in elections following the January 2011 revolution. Libération.

Tunisia Live continues,

The roadmap plan drafted by a group of civil society organizations calls for government and political leaders to meet for direct negotiations, and mandates that the current government resign three weeks from the first session of talks in favor of group of technocratic leaders to be chosen during the dialogue.

Leaders of Ennahdha, the largest party in the ruling coalition, and Ettakatol, one of its governing partners, both signed the agreement at a ceremony today in Tunis. Most opposition parties, including Nidaa Tounes and members of the Popular Front coalition, also signed on. *

The same web site noted on Friday,

The Popular Front opposition coalition confirmed that it will take part in the direct talks between government and opposition parties, scheduled to begin Saturday morning.

“We are going to participate,” Popular Front leader Mohamed Jmour told Tunisia Live Friday. “But all parties have to respect the roadmap. Otherwise, we will leave the dialogue.

Tunisia has been in a political deadlock since the July 25 assassination of Popular Front member Mohamed Brahmi.

The roadmap plan guiding the dialogue was proposed by the UGTT labor union, the UTICA employers’ union, and two other civil society organizations.

This plan calls for direct meetings between political leaders and calls for a new government to replace the current government within three weeks of the first session of talks.

According to the UGTT, the opening session will kick off on Saturday at 9:30 am at the Palais de Congrés in Tunis.

Al Jazeera says,


“I want to thank you for joining this dialogue because you are opening the door of hope for Tunisians,” said Houcine Abassi, whose UGTT trade union confederation was the lead mediator behind the roadmap, at Saturday’s ceremony.

Delegates at the Palais des Congres said the launch of the hard-won dialogue with a symbolic ceremony had earlier been jeopardised by a last-minute dispute.

The UGTT said Ennahda had initially refused to formally sign the text that underlines the timetable of the national dialogue.

The two sides are still divided over issues including the date of elections, the role of a special assembly finishing a draft of a new constitution and composition of an electoral body to oversee the vote.

Libération also notes,

As a sign of prevailing animosity in Tunisia opposition figures this week again accused Ennahda of being involved in the assassination of MP Mohamed Brahmi in July and the killing in February of another opponent, Chokri Belaïd. These crimes, for which nobody has  yet to claim responsibility, have been laid at the door of the Salafist movement.

The country remains locked in institutional paralysis, linked to the emergence of armed Salafist groups. This has increased  economic difficulties. Investors have become more and more cautious, while inflation and the depreciation of the Tunisian dinar have eroded ordinary people’s purchasing power.

Written by Andrew Coates

October 6, 2013 at 11:03 am

Tunisia: Islamist Suspects of Killing Chokri Belaïd, Linked to Government Backed Militia, Arrested.

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Two suspected killers of Tunisian left-wing Democrat Chokri Belaïd, have been arrested, Libération reports today.

They are both from the Salafist movement.

One of them is active in the Ligue de protection de la révolution (LPR).

L’un de ces sources a précisé que le tueur était actif dans la Ligue de protection de la révolution (LPR) une milice brutale pro-islamiste, du Kram, une banlieue populaire de Tunis voisine de Carthage.

A source adds that the killer was active in the Ligue de protection de la révolution (LPR), a brutal pro-Islamist militia, in Kram, a poor suburb  of Tunis, not far from Carthage.

This body is described on Wikipedia  as “Soutenue par deux partis de la coalition au pouvoir, le Congrès pour la République et Ennahda, elle est particulièrement proche de ce dernier, ainsi que des salafistes

It is backed by two parties of the (then) governing Coalition, the Congrès Pour la République and Ennahda. It is particularly close to the latter and to the Salafists.

You will find absolutely no reference to this link with Ennahada in the Guardian’s report on the arrests.

They simply describe the suspects as “hardline Islamists” and “Salafists”.

We wonder why….

Written by Andrew Coates

February 26, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Tunisia: Islamists Kill Secularist Left Leader, General Strike Today.

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Chokri Belaid: Tunisian Patriot, Marxist and Secularist Killed by Islamists.

At the of January Chokri Belaïd wrote, “Official violence and that of the militias is present, with the political assassination in Tataouine, and warnings and calls for the liquidation of political competitors without the authorities responding. The situation that gave birth to December 17, 2010 is still current.” (Hat-tip Paul F)

His party the Mouvement des patriotes démocrates (حركة الوطنيون الديمقراطيون) is Marxist, pan-Arab and Secularist.

It is part of the Front Populaire, (الجبهة الشعبية) ou Front populaire pour la réalisation des objectifs de la révolution (الجبهة الشعبية لتحقيق أهداف الثورة) * which unites left parties in opposition to the Ennahdha, Islamist-led Tunisian government.

 Belaid has been described as the “bête noire” of the Islamists, particularly after the lawyer defended  freedom of expression, and the film Persepolis.

Yesterday he was shot outside his front door.

Tunisia Live reports,

Leftist politician and leader of the Popular Front coalition Chokri Belaid was shot to death this morning outside of his home.

Shortly after news of his assassination consumed the airwaves and social media, protesters took to the streets to express their indignation over Belaid’s assassination.

Over the course of the day, demonstrators made their way to the Interior Ministry in Tunis’ main thoroughfare, Habib Bourguiba avenue, where they showed solidarity with Belaid and chanted slogans against the ruling Ennahdha party.

The situation turned violent at around 2:30 p.m. with police resorting to tear gas and batons to empty out and lockdown Habib Bourguiba avenue.

Protests have spread across the country, and some of Ennahdha’s regional headquarters have been attacked.

As today’s (Friday) General Strike is underway this is what people have been saying,

They are also crying anti-Ennahdha slogans, such as “Ghannouchi (Ennahdha founder), you are a predator,” “dégage (get out, in

French),” “This will be the last day for this government,” and “Bring down the oppressor of the people, bring down the Brotherhood party.”

Belaïd’s family openly accuse that government of responsibility.

Le Monde reports,

L’assassinat de Chokri Belaïd n’a pas été revendiqué. Mais partisans et sympathisants de l’opposition dénoncent déjà à l’unisson le “premier assassinat politique en Tunisie depuis la chute de l’ancien dirigeant Zine El-AbidineBen Ali en janvier 2011 et affirment : “On a assassiné un démocrate”. Tous les regards se portent en particulier contre Ennahda, ouvertement accusé par la famille d’être responsable du meurtre de l’opposant.

Nobody has claimed responsibility for the assassination of Chokri Belaïd. But opposition supporters and sympathisers have already denounced, in chorus, the “first political assignation  in Tunisia since the fall of the former leader, Zine El-Abidine  Ben Ali in January 2011. “They have killed a democrat”, they have declared. All eyes have turned towards Ennahda, openly accused by the deceased’s family of being responsible for the murder.

L’Humanité reports,

Le frère du défunt, Abdelmajid Belaïd, a ainsi lancé: “J’accuse (le chef d’Ennhada) ached Ghannouchi d’avoir fait assassiner mon frère”, sans plus d’explication pour étayer cette accusation.

The brother of the deceased, Abdelmajid Belaïd, has launched this charge, ‘I accuse Rached Ghannouchi of the assassination of my bother”, he said, without giving details to back up this accusation.

The Islamist Government has denied that this is the case, deeply regretting the murder.

But as, Nadia Chaaban (left Tunisian deputy) says,

Tout le monde savait que Chokri Belaïd était menacé. Aucune mesure de protection n’a été prise. En laissant se propager des discours violents dans des espaces tels que les mosquées, ce gouvernement laisse faire et cautionne.

Everybody knew that Chokri Belaïd was under threat. There were no measures taken to protect him. In letting violent speeches (Note, by the Salafists) flourish in such places as mosques, the government has let this happen and endorsed it

Others point to Ennahdha’s “ambiguous” relations with violent Salafists (Here)

Nor is Ennahdha completely above suspicion.

Their persecution under  the Ben Ali regime should not make us forget that even this ‘moderate’ Islamist party has a past acquaintance with violence, for example, in the  bombing of tourist hotels in the 1980s.

Last year  opposition trade unionist protester, Lotfi Naguedh, was killed fighting with  Ennahdha thugs.

The most that one say with certainty, on the present evidence, is that this murder did not happen in a political vacuum and that the ruling Islamists did not protect its opponent.

In 2011 George Galloway said of this party and of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood,

I welcome the imminent victory of the Islamic movements in Egypt and Tunisia, which I think will provide very good governments on the Turkish model.

, Guardian Comments Editor, has described  them as “progressive”,

The once savagely repressed progressive Islamist party An-Nahda (Ennahdha)  won the Tunisian elections this week on a platform of pluralist democracy, social justice and national independence.

His paper has frequently offered space to Ennahdha supporters.

This January they published an article by its leader

The governing coalition of secularist and Islamist parties is now in its second year. Despite their differences, these parties have clearly demonstrated the possibility of reconciliation, co-operation and partnership between moderate Islamists and moderate secularists, an important model for the Arab world.

Others who claim to be on (Western) the left, have, with varying degrees of hostility, judged the Tunisian secular opposition, and left, harshly.

The latest news is that a “technocratic” government of national unity it being formed around  Ennahdha.

Many Tunisians seem not to share Milne or Galloway’s assessment of the party.

The coming days will see them out r protesting against  Ennahdha in force.

With one death already this promises to be a very serious challenge.

Update Friday.

Manifestants à Tunis devant le ministère de l'Intérieur, jeudi 7 février. (Khalil - AFP)

Manifestants à Tunis devant le ministère de l’Intérieur, jeudi 7 février. (Khalil – AFP)

The General Strike is underway and Funeral of Chokri Belaïd is this afternoon.

News en-direct from a variety of sources, including the Nouvel Observateur.

* Front Populaire.

Courant marxiste-léniniste

Autres courants

Written by Andrew Coates

February 7, 2013 at 12:46 pm

General Strike in Tunisia Against Islamist-led Government Next Week.

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Tunisian UGTT: Defends the Workers Against Islamists.

Protests against Islamist rule are not confined to Egypt.

From the  Mashriq to the Maghreb people are opposing the ‘parties of god’.

Next Thursday in Tunisia the union federation, the UGTT, has called a General Strike.

The background as described by Gulf News,

On Tuesday, several hundred Islamists armed with knives and sticks charged a gathering of members of the UGTT union in the capital and broke office windows with stones. Police had to intervene to separate the two groups.

“The UGTT decided to go on strike on December 13, after the attack on the central trade unions and trade unionists on Tuesday,” the union said in a statement on Wednesday.

AFP reports,

“The UGTT (General Union of Tunisian Workers) has decided that a general strike will take place on Thursday, December 13, across Tunisia,” it told AFP.

It called the strike to protest an attack on Tuesday against a UGTT demonstration blamed by the union on supporters of the Islamist ruling party.

A union leader told AFP the UGTT demands the dissolution of the League for the Protection of the Revolution. It accuses the group, close to the ruling Ennahda party and with a reputation for brutal violence — of Tuesday’s attack.

The nationwide strike call is only the third to be made by the powerful UGTT since its foundation in the 1940s.

The first was in 1978 and the second work on January 12, 2011 — two days before the fall of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s regime.

On Tuesday, several dozen assailants attacked members of the UGTT, who were gathered outside the union’s headquarters in Tunis to mark the 60th anniversary of the assassination of its founder, Farhat Hached.

Police intervened to separate the two sides, but 10 demonstrators were wounded in the attack, according to the trade union.

Tunisia Live  reports that opposition members of the National Constituent Assembly (المجلس الوطني التأسيسي التونسي, Assemblée constituante tunisienne) have called for a 3 day boycott of its plenary  proceedings in solidarity with the UGTT.

It will be interesting to see how the junior member of the Ennahda government, the Democratic Forum for Labour and Liberties (Arabic: التكتل الديمقراطي من أجل العمل والحريات‎, at-Takattul ad-Dīmuqrāṭī min ajl il-‘Amal wal-Ḥurriyyāt ;  Ettakatol – Forum démocratique pour le travail et les libertés) which has observer status to the Second International, will react to this latest act by Islamist thugs.

President Moncef Marzouki has recently called for a smaller Cabinet of technocrats to deal with the crisis.

Progressive Islamists?

Ennahada has enjoyed very favourable coverage in the UK .

  wrote in the Guardian (26.10.11),

“The once savagely repressed progressive Islamist party An-Nahda won the Tunisian elections this week on a platform of pluralist democracy, social justice and national independence. Tunisia has faced nothing like the backlash the uprisings in other Arab countries have received, but that spirit is the driving force of the movement for change across a region long manipulated and dominated by foreign powers.”

@georgegalloway George Galloway tweeted before this election,

“Tunisians: Choose An-Nadha in elections. Sheikh Rachid is a wise kind brave man. A lion should lead the lions who began the Arab Revolution!”

Now we know the wisdom and bravery of this  ‘lion’.

Video of the attack on the UGTT: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZV0PAXzG-A

Written by Andrew Coates

December 6, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Islamists Attack Trade Unions Across Tunisia.

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Tunisian Salafists Firebomb Union Offices Across the Country.

Hat-Tip to Enty.

12 June 2012: Tunisian Islamic fundamentalists unleashed a campaign of firebombing trade union offices around the country today , as the Salafist movement challenges the emerging democracy in the home of the ’Arab Spring’.

Regional offices of the national union centre UGTT in three locations have been burned down by Salafists under the slogan “There is only God and the UGTT is the enemy of God”. UGTT regional offices were main organising points for the revolution to depose former President Ben Ali.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary said “Democracy is under attack in Tunisia today, and the Salafists have the union movement as a primary target. There are grave concerns for the safety of trade union leaders, and others who stand for people’s democratic rights and the rule of law.”

The UGTT offices in Bou Salem were destroyed and its bureau in Ben Gardane were burned out in news just received by the ITUC, while union centre’s headquarters in Jendouba in the North West were firebombed at 2am local time this morning. Political parties which have shown support for the UGTT, including the PDP, Republican Party, The Forum, and the Alwatad Movement have also been targetted along with courts, post offices, art galleries and even police.

“The authorities need to move quickly to put an end to this violence, which has been building for some time. The people organising these attacks have been generating a climate of fear and intimidation which threatens the very development of a democratic Tunisia,” said Sharan Burrow.



The fascists have begun a big campaign, (More here)


Un jeune homme est mort mardi à Sousse après des affrontements entre salafistes et forces de l'ordre.

Un jeune homme est mort mardi à Sousse après des affrontements entre salafistes et forces de l’ordre. (Photo Zoubeir Souissi. Reuters)





Written by Andrew Coates

June 13, 2012 at 4:36 pm

In Praise of North Africans.

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In praise of the brave Tunisian revolutionaries.

In praise of the Algerians who overthrew French colonialism.

In  praise of every Maghrebian who has fought tyranny for the cause of the peoples.

In praise of the Algerians who support every Ipswich labour movement demonstration.

In praise of the beautiful Malinka, who was my friend in France.

Marg bar Islamism!

Written by Andrew Coates

March 22, 2012 at 11:29 am

Nadia El Fani, Caroline Fourest on the Swallows and the Birds of Prey.

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Nadia El Fani Receives le Prix international de la laïcité 

A particularly moving article by Caroline Fourest in le Monde yesterday,

Une hirondelle ne fait pas le printemps. Mais quand, le printemps venu, quelques rapaces menacent de couper la tête des hirondelles, en toute impunité, cela ne sent pas vraiment l’été. Plutôt le retour à l’hiver.

L’une des hirondelles s’appelle Nadia El Fani. Elle vient d’obtenir le Prix international de la laïcité pour son travail. Des films qui bousculent et font réfléchir. Le dernier en date, Ni Allah ni maître, plaide pour la liberté de conscience en Tunisie. Il rend fou les intégristes. Tout comme sa déclaration : ‘Je ne crois pas en Dieu.’ Depuis, la réalisatrice est menacée de mort. On promet de couper sa ‘tête de truie’. Elégante référence à son crâne rasé, qui n’est pas le signe d’une lubie d’artiste mais de son combat contre le cancer. Autant dire qu’elle n’a pas l’intention de se laisser intimider par une poignée de fanatiques rêvant de la précipiter dans l’au-delà.

One swallow does not make the summer (spring in French). But when spring comes and a few birds of prey threaten to bite off the swallows’ heads, it feels more like but the return of winter than the start of summer.

One of the swallows is called Nadia El Fani. She has just won the International Secular Prize for her work. Films  that shake people up and make them think. The most recent,  Ni Allah ni maître, is a plea for the freedom of conscience, in Tunisia. It has enraged Islamists. As has her declaration “I do not believe in God”. From that point on she has received death threats. They have promised to cut her “sow’s head” off. This elegant reference is  to her shaven head – which is not a sign of artistic whim but the result of her cancer. That’s as much as to say that she no intention of letting herself be intimidated by a handful of fanatics who dream of sending her to the afterlife.

Les mêmes appellent au meurtre du réalisateur Nouri Bouzid, ex-opposant au régime de Ben Ali et auteur de films qui ont marqué le cinéma tunisien. Le 6 avril, il a été agressé en pleine rue par un fanatique qui l’a frappé à la tête avec une barre de fer en criant ‘Allah Akbar’. Il s’en est tiré avec quelques points de suture. Ces opérations commandos s’ajoutent aux raids menés contre des femmes dont les tenues vestimentaires sont jugées non conformes à la ‘morale islamique’, et à toute une série d’intimidations inquiétantes mais prévisibles.

The same Islamists that is, who have called for the murder of the film producer, Nouri Bouzid. He is a former opponent of Ben Ali (dictator), and his works have had a major impact on Tunisian Cinema. On the 6th of April he was attacked in the street. A fanatic shouting ‘Allah Akbar’ hit in the head with an iron bar. Nouri has recovered, after stitches. This operation should  be placed alongside the growing assaults against women whose dress is judged not in accordance with ‘Islamic’ morality’. That is, as part of a growing series of worrying acts of – foreseeable – intimidation.

On se doutait que des fanatiques, souvent fraîchement revenus de leur exil londonien, tenteraient de confisquer la révolution. Eux qui n’ont pas voulu la fin de l’autoritarisme par soif de liberté, mais pour le remplacer par une autre dictature… Les menaces contre Nadia El Fani constituent un test, parmi d’autres, pour savoir si la vitalité de la société tunisienne saura résister.

We expected that such fanatics, often recently returned from their London exile, would attempt to take over the Revolution. Their opposition to authoritarianism did not stem from a thirst of freedom but the wish to create a new dictatorship. The threats against Nadia El Fani are a test, amongst others, which will show how far and how strongly Tunisian society is capable of resisting them.  More Here.

Written by Andrew Coates

July 3, 2011 at 11:02 am