Protests continue in Tunisia, following the state funeral for opposition MP Mohamed Brahmi, a socialist and an Arab nationalist, shot dead outside his home on Republic day [July 25].
Two gunmen shot Brahmi, a leader in the Popular Front, a coalition of leftist opposition parties, and then fled on a motorbike. This is the second assassination, in the span of five months, after the fatal shooting of secular opposition leader Chokri Belaid on February 6.
The assassination sparked street protests calling for the fall of three-party coalition government [referred to as Troika] led by the Islamist Ennahdha Movement and the dissolution of the National Constituent Assembly, elected in October 2011 to draft a new constitution. Protesters pointed fingers at Ennahdha, which denied any involvement in the assassination.
Under the Troika rule, Tunisia witnessed an increase in violence targeting opposition politicians, activists and outspoken critics of Islamists. “So far, little has been done by the authorities to ensure that reported attacks against members of the opposition are adequately investigated and those responsible are brought to justice, fuelling a climate of impunity and increasing political polarization. While there is an ongoing judicial investigation into the killing of Chokri Belaid, and some suspects have been arrested, nobody has been tried yet for this crime”, said Amnesty International on July 25, urging Tunisian authorities to “deliver justice”.
Brahmi's family has accused Ennahdha.
— David Thomson (@_DavidThomson) July 25, 2013
Brahmi's widow: ”I congratulate you, Ennahdha and Troika. You have once again silenced a free and just voice
Security forces criticized:
During a press conference, the Interior Minister Lotfi Ben Jedou said that the same radical Islamist group involved in the murder of Chokri Belaid on February 6, is also involved in this week's killing of Brahmi. The minister also claimed that the same gun was used to kill both opposition figures and that the authorities had identified 14 suspects, some of whom belong to Ansar Al-Sharia Tunisia. The group has released a statement [ar] denying any involvement in the assassination.
Security forces are facing fierce criticism over their “incompetence” to bring to justice those responsible for the murder of Belaid and their failure to prevent a second assassination.
Sarah Ben Hamadi writes for the Maghreb edition of the Huffington Post [fr]:
Le ministre de l’intérieur n’a pas divulgué ces détails sur les antécédents du meurtrier présumé de Mohamed Brahmi, mais a déclaré que Boubaker Al Hakim était “activement recherché dans des affaires d’introduction et trafic d’armes sur le territoire tunisien”, et “est lié à Kamel Gadhgadhi” l’assassin présumé de Chokri Belaid, toujours en fuite.
The Interior Ministry did not reveal details regarding the history of Brahmi's alleged killer, but only declared that Boubaker Alhakim was “actively sought-after in cases related to arms smuggling on Tunisian land” and he “is linked to Kamel Gadhgadhi” the alleged killer of Chokri Belaid, who is still on the run.
A few days before the assassination, security forces stormed a house in the same neighborhood, where Brahmi lived, and confiscated arms but made no arrests. Ben Hamadi writes [fr]:
Comment Boubaker Al Hakim, activement recherché, a-t-il alors pu revenir dans ce quartier, qui devait être théoriquement, surveillé jour et nuit, tirer 14 balles et s’enfuir?
How could Boubaker Alhakim, actively sought [by the police], come back to this neighborhood, which theoretically should have been under surveillance all day long, shoot 14 bullets and run away?
Ben Hamadi has also raised questions over the involvement of Jihadists in the assassination of Brahmi:
Mais pourquoi les salafistes djihadistes élimineraient Mohamed Brahmi? Un musulman pratiquant, loin de correspondre au profil des “ennemis de l’Islam” que combattent d’habitude les djihadistes. Un militant originaire de Sidi Bouzid, pas très médiatisé et n’ayant pas un grand poids électoral. Le connaissaient-ils vraiment? C’est possible. En véritable militant baâthiste et nassérien, Mohamed Brahmi soutenait le gouvernement du président syrien Bachar Al Assad, dont le régime est combattu depuis maintenant deux ans… par des djihadistes, y compris Tunisiens.
But, why would Salafi Jihadists eliminate Mohamed Brahmi? A practicing Muslim whose profile does not fit with “enemies of Islam” whom the Jihadists usually fight. An activist from Sidi Bouzid, not very much publicized and does not have a large electoral weight. Do they really know him? It is possible [that they do]. A Baathist and Nassirist activist, Mohamed Brahmi supported the Syrian government of Bashar Al Assad, whose regime has been in battle with Jihadists, including Tunisians, for two years
First death in Gafsa:
During an overnight protest on Friday, one protester died [warning: graphic video] in the southern city of Gafsa. He was reportedly hit by a tear gas canister in the head, when police fired tear gas at protesters gathering in front of the local governor's office.
— Nawaat ~ Tunisia (@nawaat) July 27, 2013
Photo: Mohamed Belmufti, father of two, telecommunications engineer and an activist from the Popular front. He fell a martyr tonight in #Gafsa.