Arab “Spring” goes boink……
The ousted dictator of Tunisia, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and his Marie-Antoinette-like wife, Leila escaped with planeloads of gold to Saudi Arabia, and appear to be safe there from extradition. Their home country has just held a one-day show trial, found them guilty of an assortment of theft and fraud charges and sentenced them in absentia to 35 years in jail. Other charges await.
By contrast, the Ben Alis are much luckier than their counterparts the Mubaraks of Egypt. Hosni Mubarak refused to leave his country. He, his wife, his sons and many relatives and business associates are jailed or detained. Many of them will get the death penalty eventually due to the outrage of the public over their lavish lifestyles and brutal repressions of the spring protests.
A radical cleric who was banned for 21 years by Ben Ali, returned in triumph in February after the dictatorship fell. Egypt is being taken over by the Al Qaeda front Muslim Brotherhood and reviving such things as “the modesty police.” In Tunisia, Rachid Ghannouchi has become a Khomeini-type figure, and is gradually devolving the formerly modern and uber-westernized Tunisian culture into Islamic fundamentalist chaos.
A crowd of 600 Islamists protested this weekend in Tunisia…..against Israel:
“Death to all Tunisians attempting to normalize relations with Israel,” said Ahmed Kahlaoui, who chairs a committee opposing the restoration of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
“We will denounce them and publish their names,” he said, speaking at a meeting organized at a conference hall in the Tunisian capital and attended by hundreds of people, some of them waving anti-Israeli banners.”
Tunisia was one of the most “westernized” nations in North Africa until the revolution. Women are worried about losing their rights and being ordered into burqas by an Islamic regime. So there are protests by “seculars,” too.
“Demonstrators held aloft banners in support of “a modern, independent Tunisia” and “a progressive state” as they marched along Mohamed V avenue in the rally which followed calls by several political groups.
“It’s a citizen initiative that aims to show that Tunisia belongs to everyone, that we are witnessing worrying phenomena that must quickly come to an end,” said Ahmed Brahim, leader of the left-wing Ettajdid party.
Six members of the Salafist movement were arrested on June 26 after they stormed a cinema and broke its glass doors in a bid to stop the screening of the film “Neither Allah, nor Master” on secularism in Tunisia.
A few days later police arrested 30 people when Salafist demonstrators gathered outside the main courthouse in Tunis to demand their release.
“There is sometimes disinformation surrounding the Islamist threat, but there are also the facts, and we are here to show that we are vigilant,” said Meriem Zeghidi, a member of the Lam Echalm collective.
A number of demonstrators voiced concerns over the influence of the Islamist movement Ennahda who they accuse of speaking “a double language”.
Led by Rached Ghannouchi, the party was banned under the regime of former Tunisian leader Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and legalised following the January revolution that saw him ousted from power.
Ennahda has been performing well in the polls ahead of the first post-uprising election on October 23.
The Salafist Tahrir party, suspected of being behind the cinema raid and an attack on a lawyer in Tunis, is not authorised.”