Tunisia In Chaos After Slaying Of Second Opposition Politician

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Audio Transcript:

Carol Hills: I'm Carol Hills and this is The World. Tunisia is heralded as the birthplace of the Arab Spring. But these days the cradle of successful opposition is better known for chaos. This morning Tunisian opposition party leader Mohammed Brahmi was gunned down outside his home in a suburb of the capital. Brahmi was a leader in Tunisia�s Arab nationalist Popular Front party.

[voices speaking Arabic]

Hills: His body was brought to a hospital where his anguished son mourned a father he said gave his life for the sake of his country. Brahmi's shooting was the second high-profile political assassination this year in Tunisia.

[voices speaking Arabic]

Hills: His death brought hundreds of protestors pouring into the streets of Tunis today. Many of them blamed Ennahda, the moderate Islamist party that leads Tunisia�s government. Journalist Farah Samti has been watching the protests in the Tunisian capital. She says Brahmi was known for his criticism of the current government.

Farah Samti: Mohammed Brahmi is very outspoken and honestly the reasons why he might have been targeted are not clear yet. Most people are saying just because he's from the opposition, maybe.

Hills: What's been the reaction on the ground in Tunis?

Samti: People are really sad. Tunisians have been mourning his death all day long. The other assassination, the one of Chokri Belaid, happened in February. Tunisians are still sort of not over that assassination yet.

Hills: And who was Chokri Belaid?

Samti: He was also an opposition politician from the same coalition, and they definitely represent the leftist trend here.

Hills: Are people getting a little concerned about the political transition that's looking increasingly precarious because of this second assassination?

Samti: Definitely. Assassinations are new to Tunisia and Tunisians, and there are a lot of concerns on the future of this country and what might happen next, especially that people have been sort of frustrated with the government's performance for the past few months already, and this is probably going to make things worse.

Hills: Is there any idea who might be the perpetrator for today's assassination? Any group claim responsibility, any individuals?

Samti: No one claimed any responsibilities yet, but we've heard different accusations, some people accusing opposition parties, other accusing Ennahda and the ruling parties, so honestly it's not clear at all.

Hills: Tunisia was, of course, the birthplace of the Arab Spring. There was a lot of hope and excitement. The people behind that, the revolution in Tunisia, how are young people in Tunisia feeling at this point?

Samti: Most of the protesters out today were young people, and they were really, really frustrated about what's happening. They're concerned, they don't know what's going to happen next, the future seems very unclear and people are scared, honestly.

Hills: Farah Samti is a journalist in Tunis and she's been bringing us up to date on today's assassination of an opposition party leader in Tunisia, Mohammed Brahmi. Thanks so much, Farah.

Samti: Thank you.