Tunisia: Who’s to Blame for the Murder of the Polish Priest?

News of the murder of a Polish priest near the capital Tunis on February 18 was received with shock and grief by Tunisians. The Polish foreign ministry have said they are treating the murder as “an individual criminal case” without connection to the current state of affairs in Tunisia, but in Tunisian blogs and social media, many theories prevail of who could be responsible and what the motive would be.

The internal state of affairs in Tunisia is still fragile, since the popular uprising that led the fall of a longtime dictatorship. Demonstrations were called today in the capital city Tunis, in support of a secular, free and tolerant Tunisia.

Polish Priest Marek Rybinski

Polish Priest Marek Rybinski was murdered on February 18, in Manouba, near the capital Tunis

Nour (@ZoneInterdite) tweets:

L'assassinat d'un père chrétien… pays de tolérance, c'est inacceptable!!

The assassination of a Christian Father… this is a country of tolerance, it's not acceptable

Mourad (@deepreal) adds:

toutes mes condoléances pour tous les chrétien de la Tunisie suite à l’assassinat du père Marek Rybinskisalésien

My condolences to all the Christians in Tunisia for the assassination of Father Marek Rybinsky

However, when it comes to who are responsible for this, Tunisians have taken different positions. Usually, with a crime like this, the first suspects are the Islamists.

On its Facebook page, the Interior Ministry condemned the murder and put the blame on “terrorist Fascists”:

علمت وزارة الداخلية ببالغ الاستياء نبـأ اغتيال القسّ البولوني الجنسية
Marek Mariusz Rybinsky
البالغ من العمر 34 سنة والذي يعمل بالمدرسة الخاصة نهج ابن الجزار بمنوبة وذلك على أيدي مجموعة من الإرهابيين الفاشيين ذوي الاتجاهات والمرجعيات المتطرّفة
The interior ministry learned, with deep resentment, about the assassination of the 34-year-old Polish priest Marek Mariusz Rybinsky. The priest, who worked in a private school in Mannouba [near the capital Tunis], was killed by a group of terrorist Fascists of extremist orientation.

Abdrabbah Yassine (@ayassinov) tweets:

Et voilà que les extrémistes font de la bonne pub pour le tourisme en #tunisie

The extremists are doing a good job at advertising for tourism in Tunisia

Ahlem HachichaChaker (@Ahlem_Hachicha) is not happy either:

à kan 1 réaction officielle contre ces débiles d'intégristes? assassinat d'1 père chrétien à la Manouba hier!!!!

do we have to wait more for an official reaction against these stupid extremists? The assassination of a Christian Father in Manouba!!!

Others consider the murder a political game involving religion to demonize the Islamists and damage the image of the country in a post-Ben Ali era. Here, the former ruling party; the RCD ( Le Rassemblement constitutionnel démocratique) is at the centre of the accusations.

Abdallah Belakhoua (@Abdallah__B) tweets:


The scenario unveils the involvement of former RCD members: clash of civilisations to rely on foreign intervention, and the old slogan ”Anti-terrorism”

He adds:

الذي قتل القس له هدف واحد وهو تخويف الغرب من الديمقراطية الناشئة في تونس و كذلك تحسين صورة النظام البائد… و لن ينجح
Those who killed the priest, have one goal which is horrifying the West with the new democracy in Tunisia and improving the image of the old regime… it won't work.

An anti-Islamist (@ilyasTunis) goes even further to accuse Leila Ben Ali, the wife of the former Tunisian president of implication:

Jsuis contre les islamistes (Jsuis musulman) ms c vrai ke c facile de les impliquer. Je pence ke c les milices de Leila

I'm against the Islamists (I'm a Muslim), but it's so easy to implicate the Islamists in this. I think the militias of Leila are the one to blame.

Fadhel (@_fadhel) says:

les mots: integriste, islamiste, barbue. D mots de colons pour tt justifier (guerre:irak,afganistan..)

the words: extremist, Islamist, bearded, are colonist words to all justify ( wars: Iraq, Afghanistan…)

Nad tupac (@gasscheb) notes:

un prêtre égorgé, pkoi on accuse direct les islamistes? on a des preuves? ça pourrait pas un de ces milliers de prisonnier évadés?

A slaughtered priest, why do we immediately accuse the Islamists? Do we have proof? It could be one of the thousands prisoners who escaped?


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