Tunisian youth fight back

Published on: Tue, 16/01/2018 - 19:43

Michael Elms

Since the start of 2018 demonstrators have taken to the streets in Tunisia, protesting against the rising cost of living. The army was deployed following the death of a protestor, Khomsi el-Yerfeni, in Tebourba on 9 January.

When mass protests in Tunisia, led by the labour movement and the UGTT trade union federation, toppled the dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on 14 January 2011, the work of dismantling the neo-liberal order he had built was only beginning.

Seven years on, Tunisia’s workers are still bearing the terrible weight of poverty and inequality, and their struggles for justice have

Tunisia's unemployed rise against poverty

Published on: Wed, 27/01/2016 - 10:07

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.

Following Islamist terror attacks against tourist targets last summer the economic situation has worsened. There are now 700,000 unemployed in a country of under 11 million. The union

How to fight Daesh

Published on: Fri, 03/07/2015 - 15:56


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 flow of foreign fighters to Daesh’s capital in Raqqa, Syria, is another alarming trend. Tunisian nationals now make up the largest proportion of

“Morbid symptoms” in Tunisia

Published on: Fri, 27/03/2015 - 11:55

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,

Tunisian unions fight Islamist violence

Published on: Wed, 07/08/2013 - 15:35

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.

Brahimi’s assassination is the second murder of an anti-Islamist MP this year. In February Chokri Belaid was killed. The government claims both men were shot

Who are FEMEN?

Published on: Wed, 10/04/2013 - 08:53

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.

Some Muslim women reacted against this,

Clerical fascism?

Published on: Wed, 20/02/2013 - 07:44

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.

It operates under constraint — in one of the world’s most secularised majority-Muslim countries, one where there is a strong trade-union movement and a sizeable left, and where the population is mobilised and feisty

Tunisia: shaking the Islamists

Published on: Wed, 13/02/2013 - 06:52

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.

This is his fallback gambit after his initial call for the dissolution of the government was rejected both by Tunisia’s president, a secular politician, and by Jebali’s own party.


The threat from the Islamists in Tunisia

Published on: Wed, 21/11/2012 - 12:13

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?

Several problems are posed by Ennahda. There are those concerning democracy and freedom, and also the social and economic problems, which are fundamental.

If things are going badly

Tunisian Islamists attack artists

Published on: Wed, 22/08/2012 - 08:25

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.

Salafists are now systematically attacking cultural events they regard as “un-Islamic”. Five people were injured on Thursday 16 August when Islamists armed with swords and clubs disrupted the Bizerte music and theatre festival. Eventually the thugs were

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