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TUNISIAN SECULAR LEADER SHOKRI BELAID ASSASSINATED

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In Tunisia, like in Egypt, there is an ongoing political struggle between secular, democratic and liberal groups and moderate Muslims and the local branch of the Muslims Brotherhood , the the Ennahada party over their continuous attempt to create a ruling monopoly in the country (see – Arab Indication).

A day after secular opposition in Tunisia warned that they face a string of political assassinations by Muslims Brotherhood’s supporters, a leading Tunisian opposition figure, Shokri Belaid, leader of the left-leaning opposition Democratic Patriots party, has been killed as he was leaving his home in the capital Tunis, on Wednesday 02/06/2013.
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Police clashed with protesters outside Tunisia’s interior ministry where thousands had gathered chanting “the people want the fall of the regime” as hundreds of mourners accompanied an ambulance carrying the body of a slain opposition leader. Protesters threw rocks at the police who responded by firing tear gas and using batons in a bid to disperse the crowd on Habib Bourguiba Avenue, in central Tunis, an AFP journalist reported.

Ziad Lakhader, a leader of the Popular Front, the umbrella organisation of the Democratic Patriots

Shokri Belaid had been critical of Tunisia’s leadership, especially the Islamic party Ennahda that dominates the government. He had accused authorities of not doing enough to stop violence by ultra conservatives who have targeted mausoleums, art exhibits and other things seen as out of keeping with their strict interpretation of Islam.

Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki, who cut short a visit to France on Wednesday,said he would fight those who opposed the political transition in his country after the death of Sokri Belaid. Marzouki also cancelled a visit to Egypt scheduled for Thursday after the killing.

Chanting for the fall of the Annahda-led government, demonstrators shouted “Shame, shame Shokri died”, “Where is the government?”, and “The government should fall”.

Ruling out the possibility of external factors, Bin Ali said “Tunisia is a friend of all nations. It is hard to think of anyone from abroad to do this to us,” adding that “the people want the whole government out as they proved to be useless”.

The killing comes as Tunisia is struggling to maintain stability and revive its economy after its longtime dictator was overthrown in an uprising two years ago.

Ennahda won 42% of seats in the first post-Arab uprising elections in October 2011 and formed a government in coalition with two secular parties, President Marzouki’s Congress for the Republic and Ettakatol. However, the government has faced many protests over economic hardship.

France condemned the murder of Belaid, describing him as a courageous fighter for human rights.”This murder robs Tunisia of one of its most courageous and free voices,” President Francois HoLlande said hours after Belaid was shot dead.

It is obvious that the Arab world, in Yemen, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Sudan and especially in Syria the transitional period of reforming the Arab societies, once called the “Arab Spring”, to reshape the Arabs future and the struggle between Islamists and more liberal elements over the nature of the Arab societies is still far from over (see – The Islamic-Decade).

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* In a live broadcast, on Friday 07/26/2013, interior minister Ben Jeddou said that Mohamed Brahmi was killed with the same gun as fellow leftist Chokri Belaid and that  a  Salafist is one of the main suspects involved in the killing. Investigations pointed to Boubaker el-Hakim (pic), a Salafist radical already being sought on suspicion of smuggling weapons from Libya, as the main suspect, he said.

Another man, Lutfi al-Zayn, was also mentioned as a suspect in the killing – both members of a 14-man group. Six other people were also being sought in connection with the assassination, it was announced.
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* Tunisia has designated the hardline Salafist Ansar Al-Sharia-Tun , a “terrorist group”, blaming it for the killing of two secular politicians. PM Ali Larayedh said, on 08/27/2013,  he had proof it was behind the killings of Shokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi, which plunged Tunisia into political turmoil.  .

Mr Larayedh also said the group was supporting an armed jihadist cell which the Tunisian army has been hunting for months in the remote Mount Chaambi region along the Algerian border.
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The Tunisian army launched an offensive in the region last month after eight soldiers were ambushed, on 07/29/2013, and killed by gunmen suspected of links to Al Qaeda.

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