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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

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Written by Andrew Coates

February 7, 2013 at 12:46 pm

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