By Jaouhar Tounsi
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Tunisian government plans mass crackdown

This article is over 9 years, 3 months old
Issue 2446
Tunisian president Beji Caïd Essebsi
Tunisian president Beji Caïd Essebsi (Pic: Fidh on Flickr)

A terror attack killed 23 people and injured tens more in the Bardo National Museum in Tunis, Tunisia, on Wednesday of last week.

It took place just a few hundred metres from the Tunisian parliament.

Hundreds took to the streets that night to condemn the killing. Thousands marched on Friday 20 March—Tunisian independence day—to say that they will remain united.

The Tunisian government called for “national unity” to fight terrorism.

Many government officials have been arguing that a “social truce” between bosses and workers is required to fight terrorism. by that they mean an end to the strikes which have been escalating lately.

The ruling class is shameless. It wants to fund its repressive campaign by squeezing the working class and stopping impoverished communities raising their social demands.

The ruling class is shameless. It wants to fund its repressive campaign by squeezing the working class and stopping impoverished communities raising their social demands.

This is not the first time that the ruling class has used the “war on terror” to halt the struggle for social justice.

Tunisian president Beji Caid said, “Freedom ends when terrorism begins”.

This echoes the push by many political forces to implement a new law giving more powers to the police to “fight terrorism”.

In reality, the war against terrorism began when the Islamist al-Nahda party government declared the radical Islamist Ansar al-Sharia Tunisia (AST) a terrorist group in August, 2013.

After the al-Nahda party lost its grip on power a repressive campaign was launched against anyone who had “links” with AST. 


According to human rights organizations, at least 6,500 young people were imprisoned as a result. That’s twice the number incarcerated during former dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s 2007 campaign of repression.

This shows that calls for zero tolerance of terrorism will result in the arrest of yet more young people without any clear link to violent action.

The police have already launched dawn raids in the past few days targeting impoverished areas that triggered the revolution in 2011.

The deep state doesn’t miss any opportunity to punish those who rose up against it. According to many cops, the people who took part in the 2011 revolution are to blame for their current security failures.

Yet leading trade union officials dismissed the call to stop future industrial action.

The recent teachers’ strike and by action by other groups of workers, such as lawyers, shows the working class will not be easily intimidated.

However, the main contradiction for the left is that it defends the state and sees it as the main vehicle for achieving social justice.

The Popular Front is the largest left wing group and has many trade union activists in its ranks. But it’s been pushing for the new terror law, and supports more funding for the police and army.

The left was specifically the victim of political violence when al-Nahda in office.

This partially explains why they remained fairly silent towards the clamp down on civil liberties which targeted some Islamist groups.  

Even though the government has also been attacking unemployed youth activists, the Popular Front is unlikely to stand firmly against the state.  

Even the radical left within the Popular Front seems to be unable to break the link with the reformist idea of achieving change through the state.

Working class unity is needed more than ever in Tunisia to stand against both state violence and terrorism.



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