Current Weather
The Spy FM

A Murder Deepens Tunisia’s Political Crisis

Filed by KOSU News in World News.
February 13, 2013

The political crisis in Tunisia is deepening after last week’s murder of a prominent secular politician. Tunisians are increasingly divided over their country’s government and future, just two years after collectively overthrowing the dictator in a popular revolution.

The murder of outspoken politician Chokri Belaid shocked Tunisians to their core. Tens of thousands of people turned out to bury him Friday in the main cemetery in Tunis, the capital. The much beloved politician and human rights lawyer was well-known for defending the poor and even Islamists jailed under the regime of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Secular Tunisians believe extremists killed Belaid, and some say that the moderate Islamist government bears some responsibility for his death because it didn’t crack down on the extremists.

As Belaid was laid to rest, mourners began singing the national anthem and called for a second revolution to throw out the Islamist government.

But summing up the country’s problems in terms of secularists vs. Islamists is too simplistic, says Monica Marks, who is writing her Oxford University doctoral thesis on Tunisia. Marks says such an analysis misses many other important issues.

“One big problem that Chokri Belaid’s murder highlighted was the weak security sector in Tunisia. We need forensics, we need clear investigations, we need rule of law,” Marks says. “And all of those things are very difficult to implement in a country that was dominated by the old informant system, the old Mukhabarat system, the secret police.”

Marks says the Islamist government has the unenviable task of fixing security, the economy and everything else after 50 years of dictatorship, and under the current climate of instability.

Fear The Revolution Is Being Stolen

Over the weekend, the opposite camp took to the streets — mostly religious supporters of the government. People like Habibi Aouili, who also condemns Belaid’s murder, but says the democratically elected government is in no way responsible.

“We cannot solve [Tunisia's problems] in one day or one year,” Aouili says. “We believe that the Tunisian people and this government [are] honest. They’re going in the [direction of] real democracy.”

Protesters are also angry at France, the country’s former colonial ruler. They chanted, “French out,” in response to a French minister’s warning that Islamist fascism could be on the rise in Tunisia.

Some protesters also accused Belaid’s killers, whoever they were, of trying to pit Tunisians against each other. True or not, it seems to be working.

Marks says Tunisians of all stripes are frightened that their revolution is being stolen.

“This is a revolution that people care for strongly. It’s their revolution. It is a Tunisian revolution. It’s not a revolution of the Islamists or the secularists, or rich people or poor people, or young people or old people. It’s everyone’s revolution,” Marks says. “So the biggest fear, more than anything, is going back to the old regime — or having any one group dominate this revolution.”

Some demonstrators say the problem is not the people but the political class. Politicians, they say, need to put their own interests aside and focus on what’s best for the country. [Copyright 2013 NPR]

Leave a Reply

10AM to 11PM On Point

On Point

On Point unites distinct and provocative voices with passionate discussion as it confronts the stories that are at the center of what is important in the world today. Leaving no perspective unchallenged, On Point digs past the surface and into the core of a subject, exposing each of its real world implications.

Listen Live Now!

11AM to 12PM The Story

The Story

The Story with Dick Gordon brings the news home through first-person accounts. The live weekday program is passionate, personal, immediate and relevant to listeners, focusing on the news where it changes our lives, causes us to stop and rethink, inspires us.

View the program guide!

12PM to 1PM Fresh Air

Fresh Air

This one-hour program features Terry Gross' in-depth interviews with prominent cultural and entertainment figures, as well as distinguished experts on current affairs and news.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center