Speaking about the assassinations against secular politicians in Tunisia, Rached Ghannouchi, leader of the ruling Islamist Ennahda party of Tunisia, has told Today's Zaman that the aim of the assassinations is to block the path of democratic progress in the country.
Tens of thousands of Tunisians turned out for the funeral of assassinated secular politician Mohamed Brahmi on Saturday, and called for the Islamist-led government to be toppled. Military helicopters hovered overhead and hundreds of troops and police lined the route of a procession attended by Brahmi's widow and son and several prominent politicians.
"Ghannouchi, assassin, criminal," people in the crowd chanted, referring to Ghannouchi, the political figure that Brahmi's family says was behind the killing. Ghannouchi has denounced Thursday's assassination as an attack on democracy.
The death of secular opposition figure Brahmi, gunned down outside his Tunis home on Thursday, came months after another secular leader, Chokri Belaid, was killed in a similar attack that stoked violent protests. Brahmi is to be buried near Belaid's tomb at the Al Jalez cemetery in central Tunis, and mourners carried portraits of both slain politicians.
Ghannouchi said both Brahmi and Belaid were killed by circles which do not want Arab nations to have democracy, modernity, and freedom. He added that these circles "do not want Islam to be connected with democracy and all they want is to see Arabs and Islam always associated with terrorism." According to Ghannouchi, the "same people" are trying to cause chaos in Egypt, where dozens were killed after anti-coup protesters were attacked by security forces with live ammunition.
"We express our complete solidarity with the people of Egypt and our deep sadness at the tragedy. Hundreds of people got killed and thousands injured by live bullets while performing prayers. These are crimes against humanity that all supporters of freedom and people of conscience must stand against. We must stand in solidarity with the people of Egypt and against this brutality that seeks to prevent the historic revolutions in our region, which aim to achieve democracy and justice and bringing a better future for our people," Ghannouchi told Today's Zaman.
Late on Friday, 42 opposition members announced their resignation from the 217-seat Constituent Assembly to protest against the killing of Brahmi, a member of the Arab nationalist Popular Front party. The assembly, controlled by Islamists, is in charge of drafting a new constitution for the nation of 11 million people.
Several thousand Islamists took to the streets of Tunis on Friday to defend the government from popular demands that it resign over the assassination.
Tunisia's political transition since the revolt that toppled Ben Ali has been relatively peaceful, with the moderate Islamist Ennahda party sharing power with smaller secular parties. But the government has struggled to revive the economy and has come under fire from secularists who accuse it of failing to curb the activities of Salafi Islamists.
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