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Islamists shout anti-France slogans in Tunis

Belaid’s assassination has plunged Tunisia into new post-revolt turmoil

Gulf News

Tunis: Thousands of people protested in central Tunis on Saturday shouting pro-Islamist and anti-French slogans, a day after the funeral of a murdered opposition figure became a mass rally against the ruling Islamist party.

“France get out!” and “The people want to protect the legitimacy” of the government were among slogans chanted by Al Nahda party supporters who numbered more than 3,000, AFP journalists estimated.

“Enough, France! Tunisia will never again be a French colony,” proclaimed some of banners waved by protesters.

The pro-Al Nahda demonstration took place on Habib Bourguiba Avenue, epicentre of the 2011 revolution that toppled ex-dictator Zine Al Abidine Bin Ali, close to the French embassy.

The party called the protest to “defend the legitimacy of the national constituent assembly,” in which the Al Nahda-dominated coalition holds a majority, to fight “against [political] violence” and “French interference.”

The anti-French slogans came in response to comments by French Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who denounced what he called “Islamist fascism” after Shukri Belaid, an outspoken critic of the Islamists, was shot dead outside his home on Wednesday.

The opposition has blamed Al Nahda for the killing, a charge it vehemently denies.

Belaid’s assassination has plunged Tunisia into new post-revolt turmoil, with tens of thousands of protesters taking to the streets on Friday for his funeral, chanting anti-Islamist slogans.