Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution is on the verge of turning red, as Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali struggles to assert control over his fracturing government and an increasingly violent population in the wake of the assassination of opposition leader Chokri Belaid, Arab dailies report.
According to the Saudi-owned newspaper A-Sharq Al-Awsat, the past three days have seen upsurges in violence in and around the capital, Tunis, pitting supporters of Islamist and secular parties against each other. Thus far, one policeman has been killed, 59 people have been injured, and 375 citizens have been arrested by the police for looting.
Fears are growing that this may indicate a new level of violence not seen in Tunisia since the start of the revolution that ousted long-time former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali over two years ago.
To make matters more complicated for Jebali, the London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi reports, the party of interim President Moncef Marzouki, of the Congress for the Republic party, announced yesterday it was pulling its five ministers from the governing coalition due to unmet demands.
In its headline article, “Withdrawal of President Marzouki’s party. . . and Jebali threatens to resign,” Congress for the Republic party representatives are quoted as claiming, “We had been trying for weeks to agree on a new government with Prime Minister Jebali to contain the repercussions from Shukri’s assassination.”
Jebali’s government was previously composed of a coalition of his Islamist-oriented Ennahada party, the Liberal and Liberties party, and the Congress for the Republic party. He has vowed to create a technocratic government in order to maintain stability, drawing ire even from his own party.
“Jebali has said he would resign if he is unable to form a non-partisan government,” the Doha-based media channel Al-Jazeera asserts. “Saving the country is more important than saving the ruling coalition,” he reportedly said.
In an interview picked up by the Cairo-based Al-Masry Al-Youm, Jebali describes how “Tunisian society will not accept the language of political violence. The government will address the assassinations. I call on all parties to exercise restraint and avoid escalation.”
Families of Saudi mothers finally get their rights
Saudi Arabia has finally granted the non-Saudi families of women born in the country residency rights, Al-Arabiya reports.
Saudi women who have chosen to marry non-Saudi men have up until now been forced to move abroad to live in their husbands’ native countries. Their children and husbands lacked any legal status in the kingdom, where they were denied them the ability to lawfully work, study, or reside without visas normally issued only to foreigners.
Colonel Badr Al-Malik, the media spokesperson for the Directorate General of Passports, said that “the system now allows for all children of [Saudi] citizens to reside in Saudi Arabia and the state will bear all their accommodation fees [just like with other Saudi citizens].”
Furthermore, he added, “the husbands of Saudi women may reside and work, provided they pass a security background check.”
According to the National Assembly for Human Rights, the number of marriages between Saudi women and non-Saudi men stood at less than 6,000 until 2010.
A commission of inquiry is expected to be created in the Saudi government to investigate why certain Saudi girls are marrying foreigners.
Shoes and more pelt Iranian presidential candidate
Leading Iranian presidential candidate Ali Larijani, currently the speaker of the Iranian Parliament, was forced to cut short a speech he was giving in the Shiite holy city of Qom when a crowd of 100 supporters of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad began throwing shoes and shards of pottery at him, according to Al-Quds Al-Arabi.
Larijani was visiting Qom to celebrate the 34th anniversary of the Iranian Revolution. He has found himself in the midst of a public feud with Ahmadinejad in recent weeks over a corruption scandal involving his brothers. Ahmadinejad was attacked with shoes in Cairo last week by a disgruntled Syrian who was angry over the Iranian government’s support of the Syrian regime.
Larijani apparently tried to calm the crowd, saying, “We must not spoil this celebration with such acts.”
However, his words were to no avail, and he was forced to duck out of the celebration early.