Tunisia presses hunt for jihadists

August 3 2013

Tunis –

Tunisia’s army pressed ahead on Saturday with operations against Islamists in a remote mountain range after a deadly ambush on its troops heightened a crisis sparked by a political assassination.

The authorities kept a tight lid on the overland and helicopter raids launched on Friday in the Mount Chaambi area near the border with Algeria where Islamist militants including veterans of a revolt in northern Mali are suspected to be hiding out.

Eight Tunisian soldiers were found in the area on Monday with their throats cut after being ambushed by militants.

The interior ministry, meanwhile, said a “religious extremist” was killed and another wounded in two separate incidents while handling explosives.

And police said a suspect package was found in Tunis warning security forces to withdraw from Mount Chaambi.

The coalition government led by moderate Islamic movement Ennahda has acknowledged that the country faces a growing threat of terrorism, although it has yet to issue a call for the public to remain vigilant.

On the political front, a compromise still eluded opponents and supporters of the government in their efforts to defuse a crisis triggered by the July 25 assassination of opposition figure Mohamed Brahmi that has been blamed on jihadists.

Opposition parties have called on the government to step down but failed to draw up a united stand on policy.

Ennahda insists on its legitimacy to govern based on the last elections in October 2011.

Both sides in the political stand-off staged daily demonstrations over the past week, with Ennahda sending out calls for a mass solidarity rally in the capital’s Kasbah Square from 9pm (20.00 GMT) on Saturday.

The government’s critics say it has failed to rein in radical Islamists, who have grown in influence and stand accused of a wave of attacks since the 2011 uprising which toppled long-time president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Since Brahmi’s death – the second political slaying after leftist leader Chokri Belaid was gunned down in February – around 60 politicians have pulled out of the National Constituent Assembly that is drawing up Tunisia’s long-delayed new constitution.

Tunisian authorities have pointed to links between the Chaambi militants, the assassins of Brahmi and Belaid and Tunisia’s main Salafist organisation Ansar al-Sharia, which denies the accusation. – Sapa-AFP

ioL http://www.iol.co.za/news/africa/tunisia-presses-hunt-for-jihadists-1.1557120

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Tunisia jails rapper for cop insult

Tunis – A Tunisian rapper was handed a two-year jail sentence on Thursday for insulting the police in a song, an AFP journalist reported, with the court ruling sparking clashes between his supporters and police.

Ala Yaacoub, better known by his rap name “Weld El 15”, was being retried at the same court in a Tunis suburb that had convicted him in absentia in March, after he handed himself him in to face justice.

As the judge read out the verdict, shouts of protest erupted in the court room from his supporters who were swiftly expelled by police, with some of them beaten outside the building.

There was evidence of tear gas outside the court house, but it was not clear who had fired it. The police blamed friends of the singer.

“The sentence is very tough for an artist who decided of his own accord to face justice,” said Yaacoub’s lawyer Ghazi Mrabet.

“It is particularly unfair that no text exists for suppressing a work of art.”

Yaacoub, who was in hiding, was given a two-year jail sentence in March after posting a rap video called “The Police are Dogs” on the Internet.

He later turned himself in.

The lawyer said he was charged with conspiracy to commit violence against public officials, and insulting the police, offences punishable by up to seven years in prison.

Before the trial opened on Thursday, Yaacoub had said he was afraid and criticised the authorities for not respecting freedom of speech.

“I am afraid because in a country like Tunisia the law is not applied; you can expect anything,” he told AFP.

“In the song, I used the same terms that the police used to speak about the youth. The police have to respect citizens if they want to be respected,” Yaacoub added.

In the video the singer is heard saying: “Police, magistrates, I’m here to tell you one thing, you dogs; I’ll kill police instead of sheep; Give me a gun I’ll shoot them.”

Ahead of the trial in March, in which four others were handed prison sentences but later released, the interior ministry said the song’s lyrics were “unethical, abusive and threatening” towards pubic officials.

Several cases related to freedom of expression have sparked outrage in Tunisia since the January 2011 revolution, and activists have often accused the ruling Islamist party Ennahda of seeking to muzzle them.

In April 2012, two youths were jailed for seven and a half years for publishing caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed on Facebook.

On Wednesday, three European members of the radical women’s protest group Femen were jailed for four months for staging a topless demonstration in Tunis in support of a detained Tunisian activist. – AFP

http://www.iol.co.za/news/africa/tunisia-jails-rapper-for-cop-insult-1.1532122#.Ubo_P5yTVD5

IOLnews
TUNISIAN RAPPER “Weld El 15" sentenced for 2 years for rap video “The Police are Dogs” culminating in clashes with police and supporters

TUNISIAN RAPPER “Weld El 15″
sentenced for 2 years for rap video “The Police are Dogs”
culminating in clashes with police and supporters

Foreign FEMEN activists Sentenced

Tunisia jails topless protesters

PHOTO facebook.com/ainjournal

PHOTO facebook.com/ainjournal

Tunis – Three European activists with radical women’s protest group Femen were handed four-month jail sentences by a Tunisian court on Wednesday for staging a topless anti-Islamist demonstration last month, one of their lawyers said.

http://www.iol.co.za/news/africa/tunisia-jails-topless-protesters-1.1531505

IOL

Tunisian Soldiers Injured by land mine blasts

Landmine blast wounds Tunisian soldiers

Tunis – Three Tunisian soldiers have been wounded in a landmine explosion near the Algerian border where security forces are pursuing Islamist insurgents, the defence ministry said.

http://www.iol.co.za/news/africa/landmine-blast-wounds-tunisian-soldiers-1.1525776#.UauzBpyTVD4

Tunisian police at banned congress rally clash with Ansar al-Sharia

Clashes in Tunisia over banned rally

May 19 2013 at 03:04pm

Kairouan, Tunisia – Supporters of the hardline Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia clashed with Tunisian police on Sunday after the government banned its annual rally, saying it posed a threat to society.

http://www.iol.co.za/news/africa/clashes-in-tunisia-over-banned-rally-1.1518192