Of all the political turmoil the country has experienced since the 2010-11 uprising, the slaying of the leftist politician – a well-known opposition figure and vocal critic of the ruling coalition – marks a new low.
Many say the killing is unsurprising, and that the Islamist-led government bears a heavy responsibility for tolerating and fuelling a deep partisan divide and a culture of political violence.
A star of the Popular Front, a leftist political alliance of which his party is a member, Belaid had many supporters among those who accused the current government of failing to deliver on social justice and economic development.
He was a figurehead of the protests in Siliana last November, when tensions over unemployment and stalling economic progress erupted. Ali Laarayedh, Tunisia’s interior minister, accused Belaid of inciting the protesters against the police. Belaid in turn said the interior ministry was guilty of tyranny.
Belaid, a lawyer and activist, had also been at the forefront of the early lawyer’s protests in December 2010, which grew to become the uprising that toppled the Tunisian government in January 2011. The Ennahdha movement and most of the country’s opposition parties did not give the uprising their explicit backing until the last days.
Wednesday’s shooting is the second suspected killing of an opposition politician since the uprising, and one of many violent attacks. [Continue reading…]