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July 27, 2013

Protests Erupt at Funeral for Tunisian Opposition Politician

by VOA News

Tunisian police fired tear gas at crowds gathered outside the national parliament building Saturday in continuing protests about the killing of a leading opposition politician.
 
Protesters called for the dissolution of parliament. Elsewhere in Tunis, a smaller, rival group held a separate rally in support of the government.
 
The demonstrations began after the funeral of Mohamed Brahmi, a member of the secular Popular Front party who was gunned down on Thursday - shot 14 times by bullets from the same gun used to kill another opposition leader five months ago.  
 
Some mourners shouted anti-government slogans and waved photos of Brahmi on Saturday, as a military vehicle carried the slain politician's flag-draped coffin through Tunis.
 
Tunisian officials have blamed al-Qaida-linked extremists for killing Brahmi, who was a member of the secular Popular Front party.
 
On Friday, Interior Minister Loutfi Ben Jeddou said Brahmi was shot 14 times during a daytime attack. He said Brahmi was killed with the same automatic weapons used to murder Chokri Belaid, an opposition leader killed in February.
 
The interior minister also said investigators believe the assassin is Boubakr Hakim, a weapons smuggler with jihadi sympathies.
 
Many of the protesters have blamed the country's ruling Ennahda party for the assassination, saying the moderate Islamist party had not done enough to cut off funding or support for extremist groups.
 
Reuters news says police fired tear gas on Saturday to disperse protesters who gathered in front of the parliament building in Tunis.
 
Brahmi was a vocal critic of Tunisia's Islamist-led government and was helping draw up a new constitution. On Friday, Popular Front spokesman Hamma Hammami said the party was ready to launch an alternative government.
 
Tunisia's 2011 uprising ousted autocratic president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and sparked a wave of similar protests across the Middle East and North Africa.