Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet Wins Nobel Peace Prize

The Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its role in helping the country’s transition to democracy.

Announcing the prize, the chairman of the Nobel committee said the group had made a “decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy” after the 2011 revolution. They were among some 273 contenders for the prestigious prize. German chancellor Angela Merkel and Pope Francis were among those tipped.

The Tunisian quartet was made up of four organisations: the Tunisian General Labour Union, the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts, the Tunisian Human Rights League, and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers.

It was created in 2013 “when the democratisation process was in danger of collapsing as a result of political and assassinations and widespread social unrest,” said committee chairman Kaci Kullmann Five.

She said the Nobel committee hoped that the prize would “contribute towards safeguarding democracy in Tunisia and be an inspiration to all those who seek to promote peace and democracy in the Middle East, North Africa and the rest of the world”.


Tunisia PM says jihadist ‘radicalised online’: CNN

Tunisian Prime Minister Habibi Essid told CNN he believes the jihadist gunman who killed 38 people, mostly British tourists, in a savage beach attack was “mainly radicalised online”.

In extracts of an exclusive interview with CNN published on the channel’s website on Monday, Essid said the 23-year-old author of the worst jihadist attack in Tunisian history may have also received ideological training at a mosque.

“I think he was mainly radicalised online,” Essid told CNN of the man identified as a university student named Seifeddine Rezgui.

The Islamic State group, which swiftly claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack, has a huge online presence, using the most cutting-edge technology and social media strategies to attract fighters.

Disguised as a tourist on a beach near Sousse, south of Tunis, Rezgui pulled out a Kalashnikov assault rifle hidden inside a beach parasol and opened fire on holidaymakers.

Asked whether he believed Rezgui had become radicalised while he was at university, Essid replied: “We cannot establish (that) at this moment, but there is some information that he belonged to an organisation, and that he was very, very close to a mosque” that provided ideological training.

Essid also said it was unclear whether Rezgui ever travelled to neighbouring chaos-wracked Libya, a popular destination for militants who sign up to IS.

“The circulation between Tunisia and Libya could be done through irregular ways,” he said in English, noting that Rezgui had never used his passport to travel.

Essid said the situation in Libya, which shares a long border with Tunisia, was having a negative impact on his country and urged the international community to help find a solution.

“People are trained (by jihadists in Libya) and people come back to Tunisia,” he added.

Meanwhile, Essid vowed the Tunisian government’s response to the attack would respect the country’s laws and institutions.

“Things are completely different, what we did in 2011 is irreversible,” he said, referring to the revolution that overthrew dictator Zine El Abidine ben Ali.

Photo Credits : AFP

BREAKING NEWS: Tunisia and France Terror Attack

At least 27 people have been killed in an attack on a tourist hotel in the Tunisian resort town of Sousse, according to the interior ministry.

At least one gunman has been shot dead and another is being pursued, officials say.

Sousse is a popular tourist destination.

Tunisia has been on high alert since March when militants killed 22 people, mainly foreign tourists, in an attack on a museum in the capital Tunis.

The interior ministry told the BBC “a terrorist attack” was ongoing.


In  a separate attack,

A man has been decapitated and several others injured at a factory in France in what President Francois Hollande has called a terrorist attack.

Two men drove into the Air Products gas factory near Lyon, officials said, before several explosions were heard.

One of the suspects, who was investigated by police in 2006, has been arrested.

The dead man was found with Arabic inscriptions on him and an Islamist flag was found near the site.

At a press conference from Brussels, Mr Hollande confirmed that two attackers had targeted the chemicals factory in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, crashing into it in a car.

“We have no doubt that the attack was to blow up the building. It bears the hallmarks of a terrorist attack,” he said.



Tunisia blogger gets 6 months’ jail for defaming army

A Tunisian military appeals court jailed blogger Yassine Ayari for six months on Tuesday on charges of defaming the army, halving the previous sentence but failing to satisfy its critics.

Chants of “Down with the military judge” rang out from the public gallery as the sentence was read out.

Ayari was prosecuted over blogs he had written alleging financial abuses by army officers and defence ministry officials in a case that Human Rights Watch described as “not worthy of the new Tunisia”.

The 33-year-old is himself the son of an army colonel who was killed in a May 2011 clash with jihadists.

Ayari was initially tried in absentia and sentenced to three years in prison.

But following his return to Tunis in December, a retrial was ordered and he was sentenced to a year in prison the following month.

Ayari has alleged that he is being punished for blogs that he wrote while out of the country that were critical of the anti-Islamist Nida Tounes party of President Beji Caid Essebsi, who won a December election

He is a supporter of former president Moncef Marzouki, a secular leftist who ruled in alliance with the moderate Islamist Ennahda party but was defeated by Essebsi.

Ayari was already an outspoken activist under the regime of veteran strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who was ousted in a 2011 revolution that triggered the Arab Spring revolts.

His supporters charge that his prosecution is a violation of the newfound freedom of expression which was one of the main gains of the revolution.

Human Rights Watch has called on parliament to reform laws that lead to imprisonment for defaming or insulting state institutions, and to end jurisdiction of military courts over civilians.

Photo Credits : AFP

CAF ban ref, fine Tunisia after penalty drama

CAF have banned Mauritian referee Rajindraparsad Seechurn for six months and slapped a $50,000 (43,000 euro) fine on Tunisia Tuesday after a controversial Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final between Equatorial Guinea and Tunisia.

According to an African Football Confederation (CAF) statement, host nation Equatorial Guinea were fined $5,000 for a pitch invasion and warned to tighten security at match venues ahead of the midweek semi-finals.

The CAF referees committee “regretted” the poor performance of Seechurn, who awarded a dubious late penalty from which Equatorial Guinea equalised before going on to win 2-1 after extra-time against furious Tunisia.

The Mauritian has been sent home from Equatorial Guinea and dropped from the CAF elite referees panel.

The CAF disciplinary board fined Tunisia $50,000 for “insolent, aggressive and unacceptable behaviour of the players and officials of the Tunisian team” during the match.

They will also pay the cost of the damages caused at the Estadio de Bata last Saturday.

CAF have also ordered Tunisia to send a letter of apology, or provide evidence of the unfairness of CAF and their officials, before midnight Thursday.

Failure to do so will lead to additional sanctions against Tunisia, including a possible ban from the 2017 Cup of Nations.

CAF also condemned the conduct of Tunisian Football Federation president Wadie Jary, who entered the pitch to criticise the referee.

Photo Credits : AFP