Tunis: The widow of assassinated politician Shukri Belaid said on Saturday that she was asking the Tunisian government to provide her family with official protection.
“After the killing of Shukri, I am asking the Ministry of the Interior to provide official protection to me and my daughters ... If any attack happens to the family, I will accuse the Ministry of Interior officially,” Basma Belaid said on television.
Belaid’s killing by an unidentified gunman on Wednesday — Tunisia’s first such political assassination in decades — has shaken a nation still seeking stability after the overthrow of veteran strongman Zine Al Abidine Bin Ali in January 2011.
Belaid’s family has accused the ruling Islamist party Al Nahda of being behind his killing. The party denies any hand in it.
“We intend to begin judicial action to sue all those who accuse Rashid Al Gannouchi, head of the Al Nahda party, be they politicians or journalists who are exploiting the blood of the deceased for narrow political ends at the expense of the truth,” Rashid Gannouchi, the head of Al Nahda, said in a statement on Saturday.
Tensions run high
Tunisia’s political transition had been more peaceful than those in other Arab nations such as Egypt and Libya, but tensions are running high between Islamists elected to power and liberals who fear the loss of hard-won freedoms.
Najeeb Shebbi, leader of the Republican secular party, said the Tunisian president provided him with official protection after he received death threats a few weeks ago. Secularists fear that the assassination of Belaid could prompt other copycat killings in Tunisia.
Belaid’s funeral on Friday drew the biggest crowds seen on Tunisia’s streets since the overthrow of Bin Ali.