Tens of thousands of Tunisians mourn opposition leader’s death

Tens of thousands of Tunisians mourn opposition leader’s death

PanARMENIAN.Net - Tens of thousands of Tunisians took to the streets amid scattered violence on Friday to mourn secular opposition leader Chokri Belaid, whose assassination has plunged Tunisia deeper into political crisis, Reuters reported.

Braving chilly rain, at least 50,000 people turned out for Belaid's funeral in his home district of Jebel al-Jaloud in the capital, chanting anti-Islamist and anti-government slogans.

It was Tunisia's biggest funeral since the death of Habib Bourguiba, independence leader and first president, in 2000.

Tunisia, cradle of the Arab uprisings, is riven by tensions between dominant Islamists and their secular opponents, and by frustration at the lack of social and economic progress since President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted in January 2011.

"The people want a new revolution," shouted mourners in Tunis, who also sang the national anthem.

Crowds surged around an open army truck carrying Belaid's coffin, draped in a red and white Tunisian flag, from a cultural center in Jebel al-Jaloud towards the leafy Jallaz cemetery, as a security forces helicopter flew overhead.

Police fired teargas and shots in the air to disperse youths who were smashing cars near the cemetery, forcing some mourners to run from the choking clouds. Police also used teargas against demonstrators outside the Interior Ministry.

In Sidi Bouzid, the southern town where the revolt against the ousted strongman began, about 10,000 marched to mourn Belaid and shout slogans against Ennahda and the government.

Banks, factories and some shops were closed in Tunis and other cities in response to a strike called by unions in protest at Belaid's killing, but buses were running normally.

Tunis Air suspended all its flights because of the strikes, a spokesman for the national airline said.

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