07/26/2013, 00.00
TUNISIA
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"Violence is not part of us; political murder harms the whole country," says Tunisian Priest

The day after the assassination of opposition leader Mohammed Brahmi, Fr. Jawad Alamat spoke to AsiaNews about a "generalised fatigue that afflicts the country. We are not a people accustomed to the use of violence; attacks against free voices are bad for all citizens."

Tunis (AsiaNews) - "Tunisians are a nation of bridges, overtures and tourism. Violence does not belong here," said Fr Jawad Alamat, head of the local Pontifical Mission Works, a day after the murder of Mohammed Brahmi. "Incidents like this are a symptom of fatigue and widespread uncertainty," he added. "The whole people, on both right and left, needs stability."

Brahmi Mohammed, coordinator of the Popular Movement, was shot 11 times yesterday in front of his home in Sidi Bouzid, the town known as the "cradle of the Arab Spring" because in 2011, street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire in protest against the government in front of the town hall.

A voice for the secular left-wing opposition, Mohammed Brahmi had always opposed the rise of political Islam since Ben Ali's fall in 2011.

On July 7, he resigned from his post as general secretary of the Popular Movement, which he founded, protesting that it had been infiltrated by Islamists.

His is the second political murder in Tunisia since the beginning of 2013. On 6 February, Chokri Belaid, leading member of the leftwing opposition was killed in the same way.

According to Fr Alamat, "these attacks harm all Tunisians because they target free voices."

The murder took place on the 56th anniversary of the founding of the Tunisian republic. As was the case following Belaid's murder, violent protests broke out in Tunis and Sidi Bouzid.

"Tunisia is free, Brotherhood out!" angry demonstrators shouted in Tunis on Thursday, referring to the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Ennahda movement.

"This is a plot against the country, and the government must be held responsible for its lack of vigilance," said protester Fethi Mouelhi.

Brahmi's family too blamed the government for the murder.

"The first protests have pointed the finger at the government; however, genuine efforts have been made in terms of security," said Fr Alamat. "Now Tunisia is the most peaceful country among those that went through the experience of the Arab Spring."

"We must however be wary of making generalisations. You cannot compare Tunisia's experience with that of Libya, Syria or Egypt," he added.

"Revolutions unfolded in different ways depending on the country. The Egyptian case is not comparable to the Tunisian one, but should be a warning and an example. Egypt does not only set the trend in political terms but also in matters of religion in the Islamic world."

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