News / Africa

Tunisian Mourners, Police Clash at Opposition Leader Funeral

Tunisians hold a placard with an image of the late secular opposition leader Chokri Belaid during his funeral procession in the Jebel Jelloud district in Tunis, February 8, 2013.
Tunisians hold a placard with an image of the late secular opposition leader Chokri Belaid during his funeral procession in the Jebel Jelloud district in Tunis, February 8, 2013.
Lisa Bryant
Thousands of people flocked to Tunis's main cemetery, as they paid last respects to a leftist opposition politician who was assassinated earlier this week. Friday's event was marred by violence as police fired tear gas and clashed with young protesters outside the cemetery.  

The cemetery was a sea of people who scaled walls and tombstones under rain and wind, straining for a glimpse of the funeral cortege of slain opposition leader Chokri Belaid.

Some sang Tunisia's national anthem and many showed up with Tunisia's red and white flag wrapped around them.

Many expressed anger at Tunisia's rising insecurity that culminated in Belaid's assassination on Wednesday - and bitterness that the hopes of the country's 2011 revolution have failed to pan out. That was the reaction of 50-year-old doctor Slim Sambura, who attended Belaid's funeral with his family.

tunisia tear gastunisia tear gas
tunisia tear gas
tunisia tear gas
"We do a revolution the 14th of January [2011] for good life, democracy and safety. And now we don't have security, we don't have democracy. And our government doesn't do anything for the safety, for security for our children," said Belaid.

Many Tunisians are concerned about the rise of hardline Islamists, who have reportedly attacked or threatened opposition politicians, artists and other secular figures. Belaid's family has blamed the ruling party, Ennahda, for his death. The party adamantly denies the accusation, however, and has condemned his killing.

Related video by Jeff Seldin and Mark Snowiss

Tunisians Mourn Slain Opposition Leaderi
February 08, 2013 3:19 PM
Mourners have clashed with police at the funeral of slain Tunisian opposition leader Chokri Belaid - his death sparking new anger against the government and plunging the country into further uncertainty. VOA's Jeff Seldin and Mark Snowiss have the latest.

  • 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.

But some demonstrators at the funeral held banners labeling Ennahda assassins.

Business executive Reima Chtioui said that even if Ennahda is not directly responsible for Belaid's death, it is partly responsible because it allowed violence to escalate in recent months.

Belaid's death marks a worrying turn for this North African nation once heralded as a possible model for Arab democracy. Trade unions also declared a national strike on Friday.

The country's rising violence was underscored at the end of the funeral ceremony, as police lobbed tear gas and clashed with protesters outside the walls of the cemetery. People attending the funeral fled, with scarves wrapped around their faces. Unrest also was reported elsewhere in Tunisia on Friday.

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This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Hatem Zaki from: Egypt
February 08, 2013 1:16 PM
who is next? in Libya they murdered the minister of defense ,in Tunisia they assassinated Belaid .but who are they ? of course there are invisible hand try to spread chaos in the Arab spring countries .these countries are at stake .the Islamist-secularist conflict will lead to nothing but civil war .they must put off their false consciousness

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