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Dangerous to Oppose 'Moderate' Islamist Tunisian Gov't

A video shows an opposition party official was dragged along the ground and beaten to death by a pro-government mob in Tunisia last week.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 10/21/2012, 2:08 PM

Former Tunisian Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi
Former Tunisian Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi
Reuters

A video shown at a news conference following an apparent lynching indicated that a senior opposition party official in southern Tunisia was dragged along the ground and beaten to death Thursday by a pro-government mob. The victim,  Lofi Nakd, was the local coordinator of the Nida Touns 'Call of Tunisia' party. He was near death when he arrived at the hospital in Tataouine.

Nakd was attacked at his office by protesters from a group called the 'League for the Protection of the Revolution,' according to opposition leader and former Prime Minister Beji Caid Essebsi and leader of the Nida Touns, a secular party, who spoke with reporters on Friday. The 'League' is close to the ruling “moderate” Islamist Ennahda party, he said.

In a statement to Radio Mosaique FM, Esssebsi later called the attack the “first political assassination since the revolution.”

Essebsi served as interim Prime Minister after former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted from power in the country's Jasmine Revolution in January 2011. He founded the Nida Touns party this year in June. Tunisia, the birthplace of the "Arab Spring" urprisings, has seen mounting tension between Islamists and secularists since its revolution last year. 

The nation's Interior Ministry claimed in a response that Nakd had died of a heart attack, but also accused the opposition group's supporters of provoking the violence. The ruling Ennahda party extended condolences to the family.

The body was taken to Tunis for an autopsy on Friday, Essebsi told reporters at the news conference.

The hospital's doctor refused to give a statement on the cause of death. "When he arrived he was already in a coma or pre-coma,” the doctor told Radio Tataouine, according to News24. “He was near death and we didn't have time to carry out an in-depth examination or to see if there were external wounds,” he claimed.