On February 6th 2013 Tunisia was hit by another shockwave of protests after Chokri Belaid, the secularist leader was shot and later died in hospital; he was just 48 years old.
Chokri Belaid, Secretary General of the Unified Democratic Nationalist Party and therefore a critic of the post-revolution Tunisian government regime, was shot four times; bullets striking through his head and chest.
Belaid was shot outside of his home and Aljazeera reported that “Earlier, crowds of mourners, chanting “the people want the fall of the regime”, crowded around an ambulance carrying Belaid’s body.” This was just the start of the anger to come.
As a leader of the people Chokri Belaid acted as a spokesperson for the Tunsians who were unhappy with the autocratic regime of former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and for all those who continued to be angry about how the country was being ruled after the new President came into office.
In particular Belaid, along with a large part of the population believed that it was the leading governmental group, the Islamist party Ennahda , who were to blame for the down spiralling of Tunisia’s stability as according to Aljazeera, Ennahda “…targeted mausoleums, art exhibits and other things seen as out of keeping with their strict interpretation of Islam.”
So it seems that it is the fault of Muslim extremists within the government that the country is unable to heal its many wounds, however this is dangerously close to blaming Islam as a religion or Muslims as people for the damage caused when this would be unfair and untrue.
Belaid made television statements about the government the night before he died and has been a target for assassination since his prominence during the Tunisian revolutions began in 2011. This has led many to believe that he was murdered by the Islamist government or people working on behalf of them although of course the government deny this.
Due to his stature as a leader of the public, well those who want a democratic order put in place, when news broke out that he was dead thousands of people congregated on the streets of the capital Tunis to demonstrate their outrage.
To add to the already burning anger of the Tunisians, police used tear gas and batons to try to eliminate the crowds and get people to leave. It is hard to believe that people in mourning can be treated like this, they are abused as if they are the ones who deserve to be punished.
Being labelled as the most high profile political assassination in post-revolution Tunisia, Belaid’s death has clearly sent shockwaves through the country. At his funeral procession in Tunis tens of thousands of protestors gathered in the capital and chanted anti-Islamist phrases; a sign that maybe some are already blaming Islam for the leader’s death rather than the few Muslim extremists who make a bad name for the religion.
As a result of Belaid’s death the current President of Tunsia, Moncef Marzouki, has stated that he is going to form a unity government with no political ties. This sounds like a great idea, except for the fact that he wants it to be merely temporary.
Apart from seeming impossible, to make a government with no political ties surely should have been done long ago (if possible) to prevent the resentment of powerful Islamist groups ever taking place. If the new government is to have no political ties then it surely means that with all the differing opinions in one group, nothing could ever get done because no final outweighing decision could be made.
Why is it so difficult for a democratic government to be made? That is all that the Tunisian people are asking for, a fairly run country who’s government listens to the voice of the people. While the government ponders on its next move, more people are attacking each other in this war between government supporters and the opposition; unnecessary and preventable violence caused by the unwillingness of the government to change.
It is clear that the police are not helping in the healing of Tunisia by using violence to try to get rid of the crowds of people who are protesting against this kind of governmental violence and oppression. Leaders from outside countries need to step in and put a stop to this legitimated violence against civilians, people should be allowed to protest against autocracy.
World leaders need to get involved and help Tunisia become a democracy because it is clear that Tunisian people are helpless against the violence from the government. The people of Tunisia need help and support from the world and political leaders are the only people in the positions to be able to do this. They must act sooner rather than later in order to save people’s lives; Chokri Belaid could be just an example of what is now in store for the country.