Tunisia

Tunisia's unemployed rise against poverty

Author: 

Dan Katz

Tunisia has been rocked by a series of major demonstrations by unemployed workers.

Protests began in the interior town of Kasserine following the death of 28 year-old Rida Yahyaoui. He was electrocuted after climbing a transmission tower in a protest after he failed to get a government job. Action spread through the heartlands of Gafsa and Sidi Bouzid and on to the capital, Tunis, and other coastal cities.

Tunisia has been rocked by a series of major demonstrations by unemployed workers.

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How to fight Daesh

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Editorial

The killing of at least 39 people by a gunman in Sousse, Tunisia, along with the destruction of a Shia mosque in Kuwait, on Friday 26 June, may signal a shift in strategy for Daesh (ISIS).

Until now, their declared aim was the establishment of a caliphate in Iraq-Syria. This latest development could be the start of a new global jihad. The targeting of tourists is a move away from the targeting of religious minorities and non Sunni Muslims.

The killing of at least 39 people by a gunman in Sousse, Tunisia, along with the destruction of a Shia mosque in Kuwait, on Friday 26 June, may signal a shift in strategy for Daesh (ISIS).

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“Morbid symptoms” in Tunisia

Author: 

Edward Maltby

The Italian socialist Antonio Gramsci once described the disarray in Europe after World War One in this way, “the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear”.

The Islamist attack on the Bardo museum in Tunis is a “morbid symptom” of the political deadlock in Tunisia in the years after the fall of Ben Ali. In a political climate increasingly dominated by rightwing political Islam, where the workers’ movement is fighting battles in the streets but without being able to offer a strong political alternative, the Islamist far right, bolstered by its strongholds in Libya (where the killers trained), will continue to be a powerful pull over many young people.

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Tunisian unions fight Islamist violence

The 600,000-strong Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) organised a general strike on Friday 26 July in response to the murder of a secular politician, Mohamed Brahmi, a leader of the Popular Movement.

The strike brought Tunis, the capital, to a standstill, as flights were cancelled, trains stopped running and most shops were shut.

The following day police fired teargas on thousands of demonstrators protesting outside the parliament.

The Tunisian General Labour Union UGTT organised a general strike on 26 July in response to the murder of a secular politician.

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Who are FEMEN?

When Tunisian feminist Amina Tyler posted topless pictures of herself online with “Fuck Your Morals” and “My body belongs to me and is not a source of anyone’s honour” written across her chest, she received death threats and was put in a psychiatric hospital.

“Topless Jihad Day” was the Ukrainian feminist group FEMEN’s response.

In various cities, topless activists’ slogans were “Free Amina”, “Fuck Your Morals”, “Bare Breasts Against Islamism” and “Viva Topless Jihad”. A few FEMEN supporters also wore fake beards to dress as stereotypes of Arab men.

What is behind the slogans and bare breasts?

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Clerical fascism?

Critics of Solidarity sometimes say that our description of Islamist political movements as “clerical fascism” is too simplistic, or too sweeping.

A recent report from Tunisia (Financial Times, 18 February) makes us think we are right after all. Ennahda, which currently leads a coalition government there with two smaller secular parties, is always described as “moderate” Islamist.

The Tunisian ruling party Ennahda’s “League for the Protection of the Revolution” has the defining characteristics of fascism — mobilising disoriented middle-class and “underclass” people on the streets against the labour movement and political rivals.

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Tunisia: shaking the Islamists

Mobilisation since the murder on 6 February of a left-wing politician, Chokri Belaïd, has shaken the Islamist government in Tunisia.

Prime minister Hamadi Jebali has called on all ministers to resign so that he can replace the current administration — a coalition of his Islamist party, Ennahda, with two smaller secular parties — by a “government of technocrats” to run until parliamentary elections in mid-July.

Mobilisation since the murder on 6 February of a left-wing politician, Chokri Belaïd, has shaken the Islamist government in Tunisia.

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The threat from the Islamists in Tunisia

Ahlem Belhadj, a doctor and a member of the UGTT trade union, is best known as the president of the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women. Ahlem has also been a Trotskyist for many years, and is currently a member of the Left Workers’ League (LGO).


Against Ennhada [the Islamist party currently ruling Tunisia], what about those who propose a broad front ranging from the left to the supporters of the old regime?

An interview with Ahlem Belhadj, president of the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women, who has been a Trotskyist for many years, and is currently a member of the Left Workers’ League (LGO).

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Tunisian Islamists attack artists

In June Salafists — hard-line Islamists — attacked a Tunis art gallery, sparking riots that left one person dead and more than 100 injured.

During the riots trade union buildings, courts and police stations were also attacked.

The government then banned Islamist marches apparently organised by the groups Hizb ut-Tahrir and Ansar al-Shariah.

Islamists in Tunisia are now attacking cultural events they regard as “un-Islamic”.

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Islamists versus workers, art and freedom in Tunisia

Tunisia has seen a series of Islamist outrages against the labour movement and freedom of speech in recent weeks, while workers’ struggles for jobs and public services heat up.

On 26 May, Salafists started riots and fights in Jendouba — a provocation which began with attacks against alcohol vendors but quickly became a confrontation with the police.

The international left must make solidarity with the Tunisian labour movement which is the defender not only of workers’ rights but also of freedom of speech, art and culture.

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