News / Middle East

Tunisia's Islamists Rally in Support of Ruling Party

Several thousand supporters of Tunisia's ruling moderate Islamist party rally in a pro-government demonstration in the capital Tunis, February 9, 2013.
Several thousand supporters of Tunisia's ruling moderate Islamist party rally in a pro-government demonstration in the capital Tunis, February 9, 2013.
Lisa Bryant
— Thousands of Islamists marched in Tunisia's capital Saturday a day after the funeral of secularist politician Chokri Belaid, who was shot dead earlier in the week. The demonstration is the latest signal of deepening divisions in this North African country.

A day after a massive outpouring of grief and anger against religious hardliners in Tunis, supporters of the ruling Islamist Ennahda party staged their own counter-demonstration in the capital Saturday.

Chanting pro-Ennahda slogans, several thousand protesters marched down the tree-lined Habib Bourguiba boulevard. Many were men, but there were also women wearing the body-covering hijab and a few children.

Many carried the white Ennahda flag. Some unfurled banners calling on former colonial power France to butt out of Tunisian affairs.

The slogans appeared to be a response to remarks by a French minister warning of rising "Islamist fascism" in Tunisia following the shooting death of Chokri Belaid - who had been a fierce critic of Ennahda and Islamists.

  • Supporters of the ruling Ennahda party shout slogans in support of the party during a demonstration in Tunis, Feb. 9, 2013.
  • A tear gas canister flies in the air as thousands of Tunisians gathered at el Jallez cemetery to attend the funeral of slain opposition leader Chokri Belaid, Feb. 8, 2013.
  • A Tunisian woman walks past burning cars during clashes with the police near the funeral of slain opposition leader Chokri Belaid, Feb. 8, 2013.
  • Riot police clash with protesters next to the cemetery where thousands of Tunisians gathered to attend the funeral of slain opposition leader Chokri Belaid, near Tunis, Feb. 8, 2013.
  • Mourners carry the coffin of opposition leader Chokri Belaid during his funeral procession, Tunis, Tunisia, Feb. 8, 2013.
  • A sticker with an image of the late opposition leader Chokri Belaid is seen as a woman mourns during his funeral procession, Tunis, Feb. 8, 2013.
  • Mourners carry the coffin of slain opposition leader Chokri Belaid during his funeral procession towards El-Jellaz cemetary, Tunis, Feb. 8, 2013.
  • Tunisians accompany the ambulance carrying the body of opposition leader Chokri Belaid, from his home to his father's home, Tunis, Feb. 7, 2013.
  • A woman cries over the coffin of opposition leader Chokri Belaid, in Tunis, Feb. 7, 2013.
  • Protesters gather on Tunis 'main avenue after a Tunisian opposition leader critical of the Islamist-led government was gunned down as he left home, Feb.6, 2013.
  • A protester gestures to police during clashes in Tunis, Feb. 6, 2013.
  • The body of Chokri Belaid, a prominent Tunisian opposition politician, is carried into an ambulance after he was shot, in Tunis Feb. 6, 2013.
  • Basma Chokri, the wife of assassinated prominent Tunisian opposition politician Chokri Belaid, mourns in Tunis Feb. 6, 2013.

Many Tunisians blame Ennahda and more hardline Salafists for Belaid's assassination and protestors have attacked the party's offices. Ennahda strongly denies any role in the opposition politician's death.   So does demonstrator Fatah Ousleti. He says the Islamists are actually protecting Tunisians from rising insecurity.

"They are usually targeted as people who are criminals but they are not really criminals. For example yesterday, they were protecting people in Tunisia. They were protecting the shops, they were protecting the banks..etc."

Another demonstrator, Nasser Ajmi, said Islamists were pacifists. He said it is important to have both religion and politics in Tunisian life.

Ajmi said Tunisian Islam is modern and moderate. It is not fundamentalist, nor does it follow the path of the Talibans or former al-Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden.

While Islam is the dominant religion here, it is also deepening divisions in this North African country. More secular Tunisians warn against mounting fundamentalism. Human rights advocates and political activists have pointed to a slew of attacks by hardline Islamists against artists, politicians and secular figures - culminating, they assert, with Belaid's death.

You May Like

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Sam from: Los Angeles
February 09, 2013 6:18 PM
guys! these people had a revolution, they want democracy, I wonder why don't we leave them alone, they all muslims therefore they have the right to elect muslims leaders.
why we kept criticizing them and tagging them with a slogan islamists ???/
they are muslims and their leaders must be muslims not zionist puppets and dictators.

give them a break.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid