Tunisia, Birthplace of “Arab Spring,” Erupts in Protest After Opposition Leader Assassinated

Picture from protest via Miriam Ben Ghazi

More than a thousand protesters have taken to the streets in Tunisia after Chokri Belaid was shot dead in front of his house: 

Tunisian opposition politician Chokri Belaid has been shot dead outside his home in the capital, Tunis, his brother and officials say. They say that Chokri Belaid was shot in the neck and head on his way to work.

Mr Belaid was a prominent secular opponent of Tunisia’s moderate Islamist-led government. Crowds have gathered outside the interior ministry chanting they want a “second revolution”, the BBC’s Sihem Hassaini in Tunis says.

Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali said his murder was an “act of terrorism” and a blow to the country’s Arab Spring revolution, which took place in January 2011.

“This is a criminal act, an act of terrorism not only against Belaid but against the whole of Tunisia,” Mr Jebali told Tunisia’s privately owned FM Radio Mosaique, promising to pursue all efforts to “immediately” arrest the murderer.

They go on to explain:

Mr Belaid was the co-ordinator of the left-leaning Democratic Patriots party, part of a group of opposition parties which has been challenging the government since it came to power following the country’s first post-Arab Spring election in October 2011.

On Saturday, he accused “mercenaries” hired by the Ennahda party of carrying out an attack on a Democratic Patriots meeting.

Video from the protest: And on twitter, rumors that live ammunition is being fired at protesters:

Tunisia was the ‘birthplace’ of the Arab Spring, as many source the self-immolation of a street vendor in frustration over government impeding his livelihood. Unfortunately, as governments were toppled, it has stoked fears, especially among conservatives, that we are merely displacing secular tyrants for Islamo-Fascist dictators.

This should be alarming, especially as the other “benefactor” of the Arab Spring, Egypt, spins towards autocratic rule under the Muslim Brotherhood. Indeed, this news came while Islamist extremist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad makes a historic visit to Egypt, receiving appreciative smooches from President Morsi. No, really.

From in front of the Ministry of the Interior, in Downtown Tunis:

via tunisia live


Reports that the protests are spreading beyond the capital to neighboring towns: