Salafist attack on Communist offices in Tunisia

We have just received news about a Salafist attack against the offices of the Workers' Communist Party of Tunisia (PCOT) in the Al Kabaria neighbourhood, South of Tunis. We ask our readers to send messages of support.

This is a translation of an account of the events published in Sameh_b's blog:

"A new office of the Workers' Communist Party of Tunisia PCOT in Al Kabaria,a Southern suburbs of Tunis, was to be inaugurated on May 19 .. everything was ready for the inauguration ceremony to be held in the area (the room had been reserved and even a local rap group contacted for the occasion)

[Yesterday, April 29] when the sign of the office was installed around 6pm a group of young "Salafi" (as they are called by the neighborhood residents) came around claiming that the sign that was installed was a provocation for "Muslims"!

PCOT activists who were there were able to convince them to continue their way to the mosque where they were going to pray, except that after the prayer they returned to the charge but with a horde of uncontrollable youth (12 to 13 years old). The Salafist who shouted "Allahu Akbar" ordered the youth to attack the office and especially to tear down the sign .. they were told that the communist militants and unbelievers and Satanists, and they are not welcome in their neighborhood. They have also asked them to break down the door and ransack the premises, and the indoctrinated minors carried out these orders  .. they even destroyed the only PC available to the office, the library and a wooden table and a desk ..

The Salafist militants then attacked the young Communists, in full sight of frightened neighborhood residents, some of which have attempted to intervene in vain ...

Activists went to complain to the nearest police station and the party leader even called the Interior Minister hoping it would follow up this story, since, recently, the Salafi attacks are increasing and seem to be well orchestrated.

The most striking testimonies according to neighbors and activists assaulted:

- A child who was among the crowd addressed one of the Communist militants by asking: "You really are a Shiite? (Chii)," the comrade then replied "No, I'm Communist (Chouyouii)" (the terms in Arabic for Communist and Shiites are very close and confusing) .. he asked him "Do you believe in God?" he then recited the Chahda to show he was a believer .. Then he smiled and said, "but it's good, it is!"

- The neighbors have asked the general coordinator to abandon the office ... they claim that the Salafists have promised to return and burn the whole building ... The owner has also called in and asked the comrades to leave the apartment as soon as possible .. all are convinced that these Salafists will not let go. It seems that they rule the roost in the neighborhood.

- The Salafists have continued to roam the area even late at night and watched us passing by in cars making threatening gestures. Among them a bearded guy wearing red shorts, huge body imposing and glancing in a threatening manner, seemed to be the leader of the band ..

- It should be recalled that communist militants attacked are very young, barely 18 years for some. One of them had to pass his baccalaureate sports tomorrow but he is now injured in his hand."

 We ask readers of In Defence of Marxism, particularly those from Communist organisations, to send messages of support and solidarity with the PCOT comrades of Al Kabaria. These will go a long way in boosting their morale. An injury to one is an injury to all.

These attacks should be placed in the context of an growing campaign of violence against left wing and trade union activists. On April 9, the day of the martyrs of the revolution, demonstrators in Tunis were brutally attacked by both the police and armed civilian groups. The PCOT has accused ruling party Ennahda of being behind these attacks. There is growing concern that there will be further attacks and provocations against the May Day demonstrations tomorrow. We think that the only effective way to defend workers' organisations offices, demonstrations, elected officials, etc. is through mass political work, revolutionary activity amongst the working class and, whenever necessary, the setting up of self-defence organisations. 

Messages of solidarity can be sent through the PCOT email address (pcot@albadil.org)with copy to editor@marxist.com

See also our coverage of the Tunisian revolution