Tuesday, Sept. 01
Latest News
  1. Turkish court arrests British journalists on terror charges
  2. Locals: Boko Haram kills nearly 80 in NE Nigeria villages
  3. Austria smuggler crackdown as Europe divided over migrant crisis
  4. 'Largest ever' Med gas field found off Egypt
  5. Egypt muezzin suspended over 'Facebook prayer call'
  6. 3 Canadians, Pakistani, Nigerian among dead in Saudi fire
  7. 'A Sinner in Mecca' documents gay Muslim pilgrimage
  8. A year on, Yazidis so close yet so far from Iraq hub
  9. Delayed Egypt elections to start on October 17
  10. Blast at Syria's Palmyra prompts fears for famed temple
  11. 11 dead, dozens hurt in fire at Saudi oil giant housing complex
  12. Red Crescent: 7 bodies wash up on Libya beach
  13. Egypt elections to start on October 17
  14. Kuwaiti MP: Iran is 'true enemy' of Gulf Arabs
  15. Iran bars Barenboim, thwarting Tehran concert plan
  16. Qatar exports plunge over 40 pct in year
  17. Beheaded Syriac bishop beatified a century after death
  18. Hungary police make new arrest over Austrian migrant tragedy
  19. Berlin, Paris, London seek urgent EU meeting on migrant crisis
  20. French PM: Migrants fleeing war, persecution must be let in

Tens of thousands rally in Tunis to support Islamists

Feb. 16, 2013 7:29 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 17, 2013 5:24 P.M.)
By: Tarek Amara
TUNIS (Reuters) -- Tens of thousands of supporters of Tunisia's Islamist-led government marched in the capital on Saturday, one of the biggest in a series of pro-government and opposition rallies sparked by the assassination of a secular politician.

The Feb. 6 killing of Chokri Belaid, a human rights lawyer and opposition leader, has thrown Tunisia into political turmoil two years after it staged the first of the Arab Spring revolts.

Violent protests, in which one policeman was killed, swept Tunisia after the assassination, with crowds attacking offices of the ruling Islamist party Ennahda in Tunis and elsewhere.

Islamists have launched counter-rallies, up to now much smaller.

Lotfi Hidouri, a spokesman in the Interior Ministry, told Reuters that more than 100,000 took part in Saturday's rally, or about twice the number who turned out for Belaid's funeral. Security sources referred to tens of thousands of demonstrators.

After Belaid's death, Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali promised to form a non-partisan, technocratic cabinet to run the country until an election could take place, despite complaints from within his own Ennahda party and a junior non-Islamist coalition partner that he had failed to consult them.

In the strongest reaction yet to the proposal, Islamist demonstrators flocked to central Tunis on Saturday to support the legitimacy of the government.

"The initiative of the prime minister is a coup against legitimacy, which gave power to Ennahda. That is a coup against the election results," said protester Omar Salem.

Ennahda leader Rached Ghannouchi has rejected Jebali's proposal for a technocrat government but said it was essential Islamists and secular parties shared power now and in the future.

"Any stable rule in Tunisia needs a moderate Islamist-secular coalition," he told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.

The Islamist demonstrators carried banners reading: "We are loyal to the blood of the martyrs" and "The people want Ennahda again".

In a speech to his supporters on Saturday Ghannouchi said that the exclusion of Ennahda from government would threaten the national unity.

"Ennahda will not leave power as long as people want it," he said.

Belaid's killing by an unidentified gunman was Tunisia's first political assassination in decades and has shaken a nation still seeking stability after the overthrow of veteran strongman Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011.

While the political transition has been more peaceful than those in other Arab nations such as Egypt, Libya and Syria, tensions are running high between Islamists and liberals who fear the loss of hard-won liberties.

Secular groups have accused the Islamist-led government of a lax response to attacks by ultra-orthodox Salafi Islamists on cinemas, theatres, bars and individuals in recent months.

Jebali met with representatives of Ennahda and secular parties on Friday to discuss the formation of a new government and said consultations would continue on Monday.
Powered By: HTD Technologies
Ma'an News Agency
All rights reserved © 2005-2015