'Leagues for Protection Of Revolution' Terrorize Tunisians

Tunisia’s Leagues for the Protection of the Revolution claim to defend the principles of the Jasmine Revolution, but they actually are propagating terror and attacking all who oppose them, writes Noureddine Hlaoui.

al-monitor A woman cries as she prays in front of the tomb of anti-Islamist opposition leader Chokri Belaid at a ceremony to mark the 40th day of mourning after his assassination, at El-Jellaz cemetery in Tunis, March 16, 2013. Photo by REUTERS/Anis Mili.

Topics covered

salafist, rise of political islam, islamists, ennahda

Apr 14, 2013

On April 9, 2013, members of the Leagues for the Protection of the Revolution (LPR) in Sidi Bouzid stood in the way of a street being named after the martyr Chokri Belaid. On the same day, Noureddine Ben Ticha, a journalist and member of Nidaa Tunis, was nearly lynched in Bab Souika.

During an episode of the television show "9 heures du soir" on April 8, Mokhtar Trifi, a lawyer and the honorary president of the Tunisian League for Human Rights (LTDH), talked about how dozens of members of the LPR had broken into the Kairouan courthouse where lawyers were discussing internal issues.

Those same LPR members are officially charged with the murder of Lotfi Nagdh and attacking the headquarters of the Tunisian General Labor Union in Mohammed Ali Square on Dec. 4, 2012. LPR members are the main ones accused of involvement in the attacks on meetings of various democratic parties including — in particular — Nidaa Tunis’ meetings in Djerba and, more recently, in Gafsa.

We cannot forget the heated discourses and diatribes voiced by well-known LPR members Imed Deghij and Mohammed Amine Aguerbi — known as Recoba — and their accomplices. In loud and angry speeches, they have declared their resolve to use all means necessary to prevent certain political parties from carrying out their activities, even if they have to resort to coercion and other “terroristic and illegal” means, as they described them.

This situation, which is both strange and absurd, has all the democratic political forces and the majority of civil-society activists grasping any opportunity to call for the dissolution, or at least suspension, of these sad leagues of protection of the revolution. While they wait for the courts to resolve this issue, they do not miss out on any chance to appear on TV or the radio to transmit their messages.

Raouf Dakhlaoui, the mayor of Sidi Bouzid, went so far as to describe the LPR members as "traitors of the revolution.”

Therefore, at a time when a sacred union was legitimately formed against these leagues, only the leaders of Ennahda, the Congress for the Republic (CPR) and the Wafa parties agreed to defend the leagues and reiterated that they see nothing unusual in the actions of Deghij and his accomplices.

Despite all the testimonies and overwhelming facts, the same fierce defenders of the LPR tell us that justice alone can rule and will eventually decide whether to disband these leagues, if their involvement in acts of violence is proven true. According to these ardent defenders, circumstantial trials should be conducted on a case-by-case basis and not in the form of collective sanctions.

Yet, incidentally, these are the same parties that concocted the famous legislative bill that advocates for collective exclusion and deprives tens or even hundreds of thousands of Tunisian citizens of their most basic civil rights. They did not even go through the justice system! It was just another law that they made sure would be passed through the dictatorship of voting.

The leaders of various parties are reacting by repeatedly setting off the alarm to denounce the climate of violence and terror created by these leagues. They are also warning the current government that the upcoming elections might not take their normal course if the same circumstances persist.

In fact, in the absence of security, it would be impossible to hold normal gatherings or electoral meetings. As a result, electoral campaigns would disappear and the elections would be derailed. This is to say that if the ruling parties — specifically Ennahda and the CPR — zealously defend these sad leagues, it would be for the purpose of being their armed wings in order to terrorize and destabilize their opponents.

Yet the question remains: What is the judiciary waiting for to act and initiate essential and reasonable legal measures? For much weaker cases — sometimes for the sake of a simple picture, a newspaper article or even for innocuous graffiti — the public prosecutor reacted by immediately detaining citizens and prosecuting them!

There have been multiple cases where calls advocating violence or the assassination of political figures have been ignored, without stirring any reaction.

Worse still, militia members who were caught on video and in pictures — albeit blurry ones — attacking protesters on April 9, 2012, weren’t concerned. On the other hand, Tahar Ben Hassine, who denounced these attacks through the media, has been pursued and summoned by the magistrate — following a decision by the public prosecutor — for "spreading false news that is likely to disturb public order."

Ironically, these are the exact same words that we read in public reports released by the former regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. The world indeed is upside down here.

Still, we do not understand how these people who admit to being "outlaws" and "terrorists" are not subject to any legal proceedings. Moreover, they proudly and arrogantly appear on TV screens to unleash their patriotic hysteria and denigrate the opposition politicians.

One of these hysterical people had the indecency to call Trifi one of Ben Ali’s men, during the aforementioned episode of “9 heures du soir.” Yet, everybody knows that Trifi was one of the fiercest opponents of Ben Ali and that he was, in his capacity as president of the LTDH, an ardent defender of all those who were oppressed by the former regime.

In light of all the above, another question arises: Are these LPR minions, who spread terror wherever they go, untouchable? Indeed, by stating that they are "terrorists and outlaws" and marketing themselves as such, they give the impression that they are very proud of their impunity. Who will stop them?

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