News / Middle East

Gun in Tunisia Killing of Opposition Politician Used Before

People walk beside the ambulance carrying the body of assassinated Tunisian opposition politician Mohamed Brahmi in Tunis, July 25, 2013.
People walk beside the ambulance carrying the body of assassinated Tunisian opposition politician Mohamed Brahmi in Tunis, July 25, 2013.
Reuters
Tunisian opposition politician Mohamed Brahmi was killed with the same gun that was used to assassinate his party leader six months ago, suggesting the involvement of the same hardline Islamist group, the interior minister said on Friday.
 
The killing of Brahmi on Thursday followed the shooting of Chokri Belaid on February 6 and prompted violent protests against Tunisia's Islamist-led government and a strike call by the main trade union body.
 
Thousands of protesters massed again in the capital on Friday, while shops and banks closed their doors and all flights in and out of the country were canceled.
 
Interior minister Lotfi Ben Jeddou told a news conference in Tunis: “The same 9mm automatic weapon that killed Belaid also killed Brahmi.”
 
He named the main suspect as hardline Salafist Boubacar Hakim, already being sought on suspicion of smuggling weapons from Libya.
 
Authorities said earlier that Brahmi had been shot 14 times.
 
Protesters assembled in central Tunis, preparing to march down the capital's main boulevard as riot police deployed.
 
The demonstrators chanted: “Down with the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood,” in reference to the ruling Ennahda party, which draws inspiration from the Brotherhood, a pan-Arab Islamist movement.
 
The protest followed calls by the secular opposition for street rallies to topple the government. Islamists called for a demonstration after Friday prayers.
 
Brahmi belonged to the secular, Arab nationalist Popular Front party, formerly led by Belaid, whose killing set off the worst violence in Tunisia since President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was toppled in 2011 in the first of the Arab Spring revolutions.
 
Brahmi, 58, was a critic of the Ennahda-led ruling coalition and a member of the Constituent Assembly that has drafted a new constitution for the North African nation of 11 million.
 
German Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned what she called the “cowardly assassination” of Brahmi and demanded that his and Belaid's killers be swiftly brought to justice.
 
Shops and banks were shuttered in anticipation of violence on Friday. All flights were canceled because of a strike, the civil aviation office said.
 
The Tunis stock exchange fell by 1.9 percent on Friday morning.
 
Arab world
 
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 civil war in Syria.
 
Brahmi's family said his funeral would take place on Saturday and he would be buried near the tomb of Belaid.
 
Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki asked the army to organize a state funeral for Brahmi.
 
The government announced a day of national mourning on Friday, and radio stations broadcast patriotic songs.
 
Secularist called for the dissolution of the government and the formation of a national salvation administration, which was rejected by Prime Minister Ali Larayedh.
 
In Tunis late on Thursday, riot police fired tear gas in front of the interior ministry to disperse protesters, a Reuters witness said.
 
Similar demonstrations erupted in the cities of Sfax and Kef and in the southern town of Sidi Bouzid, the cradle of the Tunisian revolution, where protesters set fire to two Ennahda party offices.
 
Tunisia's political transition since the revolt that toppled Ben Ali has been relatively peaceful, with the moderate Islamist Ennahda party sharing power with smaller secular parties.
 
But the government has struggled to revive the economy and has come under fire from secularists who accuse it of failing to curb the activities of Salafi Islamists.
 
The Egyptian army's overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi on July 3 following mass protests against him has further energized the anti-Islamist opposition in Tunisia.
 
Rached Ghannouchi, the Ennahda party leader, said the attack on Brahmi was aimed at “halting Tunisia's democratic process and killing the only successful model in the region, especially after the violence in Egypt, Syria and Libya”.
 
“Tunisia will not follow the Egyptian scenario,” he told Reuters. “We will hold on.”
 
The assassination occurred as the country prepares to vote in the next few weeks on the new constitution before a presidential election later in the year.
 
The turmoil dealt another blow to efforts to revive Tunisia's vital tourism industry. Cultural events, including the Carthage Festival, were suspended following Brahmi's killing.

You May Like

Republican Majority in Congress Off to Rough Start

Standoff over Homeland Security funding exposes philosophical, tactical problems within party More

Pakistan Blocks Baloch Activist from US Trip

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan slams Islamabad officials for stopping people from leaving country to attend human rights conference More

Video Muslims Long Thrived in North Carolina Before Students Killed

Idyll shattered February 10, when three Muslim university students living in Chapel Hill were gunned down by a neighbor More

ILO: Women Still Losing Out in Global Work Place

International Labor Organization says women are marginally better off now than they were 20 years ago More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Studentsi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
March 05, 2015 9:04 PM
The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Muslims Long Thrived in N Carolina Before Slaying of 3 Students

The killings of three Muslim students in North Carolina early last month came as Muslims across the United States have felt under siege, partly as a result of terrorist attacks being committed internationally in the name of their faith. But Muslims have long thrived in university cities in this part of the American South. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Fuel Shortages in Nigeria Threaten Election Campaigns

Nigeria is suffering a gas shortage as the falling oil price has affected the country’s ability to import and distribute refined fuels. Coming just weeks before scheduled March 28 elections, the shortage could have a big impact on the campaign, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA.
Video

Video Report: Human Rights in Annexed Crimea Deteriorating

A new report by Freedom House and the Atlantic Council of the United States says the human rights situation in Crimea has deteriorated since the peninsula was annexed by Russia in March of last year. The report says the new authorities in Crimea are discriminating against minorities, suppressing freedom of expression, and forcing residents to assume Russian citizenship or leave. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video 50 Years Later African-Americans See New Voting Rights Battles Ahead

Thousands of people will gather to mark the 50th anniversary of a historic civil rights march on March 7th in Selma, Alabama. In 1965, dozens of people were seriously injured during the event known as “Bloody Sunday,” after police attacked African-American demonstrators demanding voting rights. VOA’s Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights pioneers who are still fighting for voting rights in Alabama more than 50 years later.
Video

Video Craft Brewers Taking Hold in US Beer Market

Since the 1950’s, the U.S. beer industry has been dominated by a handful of huge breweries. But in recent years, the rapid rise of small craft breweries has changed the American market and, arguably, the way people drink beer. VOA’s Jeff Custer reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More