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Slain lawmaker buried in Tunisia

Thousands brave heat, fasting to pay respects

Gulf News

Tunis: Thousands of Tunisians marched in the funeral procession of slain lawmaker Mohammad Brahmi on Saturday, but their number was well below those who attended the burial of the victim of the first political assassination in the country last February.

Wrapped in the red and white Tunisian flag, Brahmi’s coffin left the Charles Nicolle hospital at 8:20 am for his home Ariana, in the suburbs of the capital Tunis.

The coffin left his home at 9:30am for Al Jallaz Cemetery, the largest in the country.

Security was tight around the graveyard at the southern entrance of the capital where the mourners buried the secular politician assassinated on Thursday in front of his home as the country marked Republic Day.

Military helicopters hovered overhead while hundreds of troops and police could be seen alongside the procession route and near the graveyard, Huwaida Mohammad Hadi, a resident of the area, said.

However, local media reports said that the crowd at the funeral was less impressive than in February when Shokri Belaid, a leftist politician, was assassinated and buried in Al Jallaz.

No representative of the government, led by moderate Islamist party Al Nahda, was present at the funeral in respect of the wishes of the family.

His son on Friday reportedly said that the family did not want anyone from the Troika, the three parties in the government, or from Nida Tunis, one of the largest political groups vying for power in the country, to attend any segment of the procession.

Brahmi, 58, had often criticised the parties governing the country for not doing enough to address political, economic and social issues.

The former lawmaker also had differences with leftist politicians. He and supporters earlier this month splintered from a large left-leaning formation and had plans to form another group.

Interior Minister Lotfi Bin Jeddou on Thursday said that Brahmi was killed with the same weapon used to shoot Belaid in February.

Protests in Tunisia on Thursday and Friday called for the dissolution of the parliament while politicians from the opposition said that the government should step down.

Al Nahda has distanced itself from the killing, attributed by the interior minister to an extremist cell.

All political parties have condemned the assassination and Tunisians have called for calm and warned that the killing could trigger a wave of unrest in the country.

A general strike brought most of the country to a standstill on Friday. On Saturday morning, the police reported a small blast under a car in the northern suburb of La Goulette.