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Tunisia MPs injured in parliament brawl, prompting calls to dissolve assembly

Tunisia’s parliament building witnessed a violent brawl between representatives of rival political parties

December 8, 2020 at 3:59 pm

Tunisia’s parliament building yesterday witnessed a violent brawl between representatives of rival political parties which sparked public outrage and led to an online campaign calling on President Kais Saied to dissolve the assembly.

According to Al-Quds Al-Arabi, one of the representatives, Anwar Al-Shahid was seen in a video bleeding from his forehead while his colleague Samia Abbou appeared unconscious after she was attacked by members of Al-Karama, prompting condemnation from Parliament Speaker Rashid Al-Ghannouchi and the Presidency of Parliament pledging to open an investigation.

The scuffle broke out between members of the far-right Al-Karama Coalition and the centre-left Democratic Current bloc during a session within the Women’s Committee, overseeing issues related to peasant women labourers.

Previous comments made by Al-Karama Coalition’s deputy Muhammad Al-Afas were brought up in which he is said to have insulted Tunisian women by referring to women’s rights as debauchery and suggested that single mothers were prostitutes or had been raped.

READ: Tunisia: Public sector engineers demand salary increase

Al-Afas claimed that his only source of reference was an interpretation of Islamic law and that “the problems encountered by families and children today are the result of the freedoms advocated by defenders of women’s rights.” He added that “the so-called rights achievements have undermined the dignity of Tunisian women.”

Following Al-Afas’ remarks being challenged, the heated argument turned to verbal abuse being exchanged before physical clashes erupted. One Democratic Current MP, Anouar Bechahed, who received a head injury, described the attack by three Karama MPs “an act terrorism” and said he would be pressing legal charges.

Today it has been reported that Tunisia’s Association of Democratic Women took part in protests outside the parliament building. Osama Al-Saghir, an MP of the Ennahda Movement, is alleged to have attempted to run over one of the protestors.

MP Maryam Al-Laghmani, who was participating in the protests, said demonstrators had been making room for the deputies ’cars to enter parliament.

According to the Ennahdha Party, their MP Osama Al-Saghir’s car was attacked upon his arrival to parliament, leaving his car damaged. He was only able to enter the government building after police intervened. Al-Saghir has officially reported the incident to the authorities, the party told MEMO.

Al-Laghmani said Al-Saghir’s car was attacked because he filmed the protesters, describing them as “the ISIS [Daesh] of modernity”.

READ: Tunisia: Public sector engineers demand salary increase

UPDATE: At 10.20am (GMT) on 14 December 2020 comments on Osama Al-Saghir’s actions were corrected as per a statement by his party.