The brutal crackdown on Tunisian protesters on what came to called Black Monday has divided Tunisians, triggered fiery statements by the opposition and been met with defense on the government’s side.
Opposition parties accused the ruling Islamist-oriented Ennahda party of sending militias to attack peaceful demonstrators, a claim the government and the interior ministry in particular denied.
“We have no militias and I am warning against the fabrication of accusations without any proof and the division of Tunisian society along ideological lines,” Ennahda head Rachid al-Ghannouchi told Al Arabiya.
Ghannouchi added that it is not possible for Tunisia to return to dictatorship but he acknowledged that there were obstacles in the transition to democracy.
“It is also not possible to topple the government,” he said.
Member of the Ettajdid Movement which was formerly the Communist Party, Adel al-Shawsh, stressed the necessity of opening a national dialogue between the different political factions and which focuses on the interests of Tunisia and not those of one party.
“The balance of power also needs to be changed and a moderate party that can counter the Islamist influence has to be established,” he told Al Arabiya.
Shawsh criticized the performance of the political elite and argued that Tunisia has several figures other than the ones currently in charge and who can unify the Tunisian opposition to counterbalance Islamists.
“Former Prime Minister Beji Caid el-Sebsi is the most capable of uniting the opposition owing to his political experience and his association with the Bourguiba era.”
For political analyst Soufian bin Farahat, events in Tunisia reflect a typical sedition.
“Each faction sticks to its stance and slams those with different views,” he told Al Arabiya. “This can be clearly seen in the media and in conferences and discussions.”
Farahat added that Tunisians were united when they ousted former president Zein Abedine Ben Ali, but disputes started surfacing when the transition to democracy began and especially during the elections.
“Society was split into two camps: one that presents itself as a representative of Islam and a defender of the Tunisian identity and the other stands for modernity and struggles to keep progressive gains acquired in the past.”
For Farahat, these disputes are not in line with the original goals of the Tunisian revolution.
“The revolution started in the countryside and basically demanded a dignified life and job opportunities.”
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)