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Terrorism 2013-02-21

Tunisia boosts protection for journalists, politicians

By Monia Ghanmi in Tunis for Magharebia – 21/02/13

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Tunisia's interior ministry last week began to provide protection to journalists and political figures targeted by militants.

Opposition leader Chokri Belaid was not the only high profile leader that faced threats from extremists. Political figures and journalists also received death threats from religious radicals in recent weeks.

The measures included added security to homes as well as bodyguards for high profile figures, tunisienumerique.com reported on February 14th.

UNESCO released a statement the same day announcing a multi-week training for security forces on the safety of journalists. The statement came one day after the completion of its first class.

Facebook pages and websites considered close to salafist militants called for the elimination of a number of Tunisian personalities whom they described as "secular, infidel and anti-Islamic".

They were singled out on a black list that included many names, such as journalist and Ennahda opponent Taoufik Ben Brik, journalist Moez Ben Gharbia, writer Olfa Youssef, blogger Olfa Riahi and media figure Naoufel Ouertani.

Most death threats were directed at media figures who saw this move as another attempt to subdue the media and to shackle it.

A monitoring unit affiliated with the Tunis Centre for Press Freedom warned about violations against journalists. In a statement, it listed the assault and death threats suffered by journalists and photographers.

The unit documenting violations against Tunisian media mentioned in its February 11th statement that Mosaique FM received numerous threats targeting its journalists Naoufel Ouertani and Haythem El Mekki.

The threats come against the backdrop of their media reporting, which is apparently disliked by some hard-line parties, Naoufel Ouertani said in a press statement.

For his part, El Mekki confirmed that for a while now he has received a continuous flow of clear and explicit death threats and that they increased after Chokri Belaid's assassination.

These threats prove that journalists have become a target by virtue of the nature of their work and that their physical safety is at risk, El Mekki said.

He added that this would not make him change his positions. Even politicians and trade unionists did not escape from the hard-liners' threats.

Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) Secretary-General Hussein Abbasi received similar threats from unidentified elements following Belaid's assassination and the announcement of the general strike.

These elements are in possession of weapons, financing and previous terrorist experience, and have the ability to kill professionally, union spokesman Sami Tahiri said.

Opposition politician Ahmed Nejib Chebbi was assaulted after returning from Belaid's funeral. He also escaped an attempt on his life last year in the southern city of Zarzis that was called for by a salafist sheikh.

The Arab Network for Human Rights condemned the escalating and systematic violence against the Tunisian opposition in a February 10th statement.

"If the government of Ennahda wants to continue working and achieve its program, it has to support political tolerance in the country and renounce hate speech which has become widespread among opponents," the group said.

"Widespread video evidence can be seen on internet pages where a group of salafist leaders vow to shed the blood of Belaid and Chebbi," the statement added. In light of this reality, Tunisians warned against the persistence of militant threats and incitement against political and media figures in the country.

The Tunisian League for the Defence of Human Rights warned against religious calls and invitations that are contrary to human rights – as well as against their promotion in the media, social networks, mosques and public meetings.

The organisation further warned against the continuing threat of the assassination of political opposition figures.

"The continuing the policy of death threats confirms the growing influence of radical elements in the country," 42-year-old Tunis resident Chokri Louati told Magharebia.

"These elements use violence and religious extremism as a way to achieve their goals and eliminate their opponents and the government needs to protect the country's targeted elite," he added.

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  1. Anonymous thumb

    رائف بن حميدة 2013-2-27

    A correction to my article (1) published, in the 8th line there is a missing part. Here is what I meant: I refer you to a report on May 6 on google under the headline special report about the uprising of the mining basing in particular the report of May 6 where the slogan was "God is the greatest, a sweeping wing on policing"... (Thank you to this forum for its kindness!)


  2. Anonymous thumb

    رائف بن حميدة(2) 2013-2-24

    To be continued. Their best in the pre-Islamic era are their best in Islam?! "O Lord dignify Islam with one of the two Omars," in appreciation of our master Omar... even before his Islam! He ordered releasing the daughter of Hatem At-Tai and said "let her go, her father used to like the noble qualities"?! He said "No Arab man was described to me and I liked to see him except Antara."?! He said about An-najashi (the Christian) when he learned about his death "a righteous man died today, so come to pray for your brother Ashama." As for our master Omar, he said "teach your children lamiat Al Arab (by Chanfara, the poet of Arab Saalik from the pre-Islamic era!!!) as it is of the noblest manners! Finally, we draw attention to the seriousness of party squabbles especially the ideological and religious ones. He was right, he who said "partisanship is tribalism of the modern age." We believe that in the absence of insight and reason, it is even worse than tribalism. Those who fight tribally are driven by the logic of quotas while those who fight religiously or ideologically are like the deaf who debate, with no logic to govern them. They are mere Byzantine group among whom the fight has become very fierce over the colour of snow because the colour of their glasses differ. It is the duty of all the good intellectuals to avoid skirmishes and divisions between the sons of the same people. Religion is to God and the homeland is for all. So, we shouldn't accuse each other of disbelief or treachery. Dialogue is our way to the truth and reasonable no matter how long it takes. Remember that the messenger, peace and blessings of God be upon him was patient for about 20 years while the holy Kaaba, the destination of Muslims in their prayers, was full of idols!!! May God grant us all success!


  3. Anonymous thumb

    رائف بن حميدة(1) 2013-2-24

    Well said "Indigné"! The truth is that aggressiveness has largely spread among Tunisians of all walks. There is no good side and bad side. Taoufik Ben Brik did not distinguish himself through his civic-sense related writings... However, you shouldn't be dashed and swallow the bait. Maybe there are hidden hands (even zionist or imperial intelligence) that are causing this crisis. Isn't this true? We need to be careful. Calmness and consensus cannot be reached through this tense impulsiveness and this is not felt in your words when you said "UNESCO thoroughly mistaken for trying to provide bodyguards for Tunisian journalists," and you cite this verse " Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided." In particular the Tunisian left decides on May 6 when the writer cited in the end, with total impartiality and innocence, one of the lifted banners "God is the greatest a sweeping wind on policing." This impartiality and integrity are enough alone to deter all distortions. It is clear that the left has no other enemy except injustice, poverty, oppression, deceit and treachery... Even if we suppose the sincerity of these rumours as they are "disbelievers and ignoramuses", wasn't the messenger, peace and blessings of God be upon him, saying "O Lord guide my people as they don't know?" He said... to be continued (2).


  4. Anonymous thumb

    Indigné 2013-2-21

    Are they also going to take care of people threatened by the so-called democrats? On the Internet and the well-know websites like Kapitalis, appeals were made to publicly castrate the orator Wajdi Ghoneim during his visit to Tunisia. The same site called for cutting of the tongue of Chtourou, the Ennahda representative in the Constituent Assembly. And editorial from the chief editor of Kapitalis, Ridha Kéfi, violently attacked Rachid Ghannouchi the same day as the attack on the American Embassy. He blamed him for not sending troops to protest against the embassy and accused him of being a sell-out to the Americans. You’d need an encyclopedia to cite everything. And then, these rude thugs pollute the Internet, including this website, with their vile language and piggish manners. The truth is that aggressiveness has largely spread among Tunisians of all walks. There is no good side and bad side. Taoufik Ben Brik did not distinguish himself through his civic-sense related writings. UNESCO thoroughly mistaken for trying to provide bodyguards for Tunisian journalists. They rather need a course in manners and ethics. When the a television studio invites a minister and a so-called artist, is it necessary for this fanatic to point his finger in an obscene gesture to the minister? Why would this situation require a bodyguard for the thug, who was not under any risk? The minister left with dignity and the audience was deprived of a debate. According to a report from the World Health Organisation, half of the Tunisians suffer from mental disorders. In my view, the other half suffers from poor education. Just like half of the Tunisians are unemployed while the other half are on strike to please the unions.