Ghannouchi Calls for Protest to Defend Revolution
Ennahdha leader Rached Ghannouchi called on Tunisians to protest on Friday to “protect the revolution and things considered sacred” in part due to the outrage against an art exhibit many found insulting to Islam. “We support freedom of expression and creativity, but it’s the people’s right to defend what they consider sacred,” he said. Abu Ayoub, the ultra-conservative Islamist leader, also called for a similar protest on Friday. The Interior Ministry, however, released a statement hours later saying it had not authorized any marches for Friday. Ghannouchi said he still intends to protest tomorrow and even says he has authorization, which some interpret to mean that the protest will be permitted if it remains at the Kasbah and does not “march”.
A few hours after receiving a 20 year sentence in absentia Wednesday morning, ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali also received a life sentence in absentia for his role in the deaths of protesters in the Thala and Kasserine martyrs trial. Former Interior Minister Rafik Guesmi was also sentenced [French] to 12 years in prison. However, victims’ families were upset by the acquittals of several prominent officials such as Moncef Krifa, former director of the Interior Ministry, and Ali Seriate, former director of Presidential Security.
Also, Sihem Souid describes [French] the difficulty Tunisian police have had in controlling recent violence across the country due to shortages of basic equipment like body armor. While 200 people have been arrested in recent rioting, nearly 70 police officers have been injured. The police officer interviewed, however, said they still take their duty seriously. “When they use violence, the Republic will defend itself,” he said.