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latest news

Burkina Faso
Mass uprising ousts dictator

31/10/2014: No to military rule! Continue mass struggle – the whole rotten system must go!

  Burkina Faso

Ireland
Anti-water tax protest in Limerick

31/10/2014: Video of one of the city’s biggest protests

  Ireland Republic

Kurdistan
Battle for Kobanê at a crossroads

31/10/2014: What does US military ‘assistance’ mean for the Kurdish struggle?

  Kurdistan, Middle East

Belgium
Government’s Thatcherite attacks provoke class confrontation

30/10/2014: The right wing coalition must go, and all austerity policies!

  Belgium

Mexico
Wave of protests follow student "disappearances"

29/10/2014: Latest US-backed ‘drugs war’ horror sends shock waves throughout Mexico

  Mexico

A ‘third industrial revolution’

28/10/2014: New technological innovations are having a huge impact on the capitalist system, a subject explored in a new book, The Zero Marginal Cost Society.

  Review, Science

Nigeria
Vast social and class extremes

27/10/2014: The unreported Nigeria - mass struggles by the working class

  Nigeria

Africa
Ebola outbreak a deadly face of austerity

25/10/2014: Pharmaceutical industry/big corporations need to be brought into public ownership and resources used to provide urgent aid

  Africa

Tunisia
Widespread scepticism over Parliamentary elections

24/10/2014: Pro-capitalist parties teaming up for more of the same - urgent need to rebuild a political voice for the working class and youth

  Tunisia

Kurdistan
Defend Kobanê and all those threatened by ISIS, AKP and Imperialism

24/10/2014: For democratic working people’s defence and mass struggle against capitalism

  Kurdistan, Middle East, Syria, Turkey

Britain
Anniversary of first issue of Militant newspaper

24/10/2014: 50 years of socialist ideas and workers’ struggle

  Britain

Spain
Death knells of "Transition" regime

23/10/2014: Catalonia; ’Podemos’, and the left

  Spain

Ireland
TD Paul Murphy tears up Irish Water pack in the Dail

22/10/2014: 1 million refuse to register for water charges

  Ireland Republic

Seattle
“Sawant ...with impressive, favorable rating”

22/10/2014: 61% support for Kshama Sawant in her electoral district...Jess Spear`s campaign against one of the most powerful corporate politicians in Washington State gaining momentum...indications of yearning for representation for working class people

  US

Britain
100,000 attend TUC’s pay rise demo

21/10/2014: Calls for local government strike action to be reinstated

  Britain

Kazakhstan
Brutal repression in imperialism’s interests

20/10/2014: Workers pay the price for crony capitalism

  Kazakhstan

Is the US promoting a “colour revolution” in Hong Kong?

18/10/2014: Beijing’s scare propaganda doesn’t stand up to examination

  Hong Kong, US

Britain
Workers need a pay rise - how can we pay for it?

17/10/2014: End poverty, inequality and capitalism

  Britain

Scotland
10,000 attend Hope Over Fear rally

16/10/2014: ’Political awakening’ continues after independence referendum

  Scotland

 Ireland
’The people have risen, they should not kneel down again’

15/10/2014: Paul Murphy TD (MP) makes maiden speech in Parliament

  Ireland Republic, Video

Ireland
Byelection triumph marks turning point in anti-austerity struggle

14/10/2014: Paul Murphy wins parliamentary seat as 100,000 march against water charges

  Ireland Republic

Middle East
US-led policy of air attacks on Islamic State lies in ruins

13/10/2014: As battle for Kobane rages, IS forces make major gains in Iraq

  Middle East, US

 Ireland
Paul Murphy elected to Irish parliament in stunning byelection victory

12/10/2014: Anti-Austerity Alliance victory shocks political establishment, reflects mass revolt against water charges and austerity

  Ireland Republic, Video

South Africa
"A workers’ party must emerge"

11/10/2014: Dire position of South African capitalism and inequality adds momentum towards creation of workers’ party

  Africa, South Africa

Scotland
SNP budget sees another £500 million cuts

10/10/2014: For a ’no-cuts budget’ and mass campaign to win back billions stolen by ConDem government!

  Scotland

Middle East
Repel Islamic State and imperialism

08/10/2014: For democratic workers’ defence and Kurdish self-determination

  Middle East, Syria, Turkey

Israel/Palestine
After the Gaza war

07/10/2014: No justice for Palestinians and no peace for the region - For a socialist solution!

  Israel / Palestine

Hong Kong
Pro-regime thugs attack protesters

06/10/2014: Organise democratic defence committees to repel attacks and kick out CY Leung’s government!

  Hong Kong

New Zealand
National Party forms third successive government

04/10/2014: Labour Party and the Left in crisis

  New Zealand

Africa
Ebola crisis spreads

03/10/2014: Consequence of profit before health

  Africa

Kurdistan
The battle for Kobanê

02/10/2014: Regional war poses new challenges for struggle for Kurdish self-determination

  Iraq, Kurdistan, Syria, Turkey

Iraq /Syria
US-led bombings will worsen divisions

01/10/2014: Stop imperialist slaughter!

  Iraq, Syria, US

Hong Kong
Massive anti-government protests after attempted police crackdown

30/09/2014: Anger over police violence fuels spontaneous “umbrella revolution” and growing strike movement

  Hong Kong

Britain
Labour to continue austerity offensive

26/09/2014: Labour conference a carefully stage-managed affair

  Britain

Tunisia

Salafist rampages bring worst violence since last year

www.socialistworld.net, 09/07/2012
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Interview with a revolutionary activist

Socialistworld.net

In the middle of June, days of rioting in Tunisia, supposedly triggered by an art exhibition in a suburb of the capital, Tunis, considered as ‘blasphemous’ by fanatical religious groups, left at least one person dead and 62 injured. Salafist groups - probably helped by elements linked to the fallen regime - armed with knives, clubs and Molotov cocktails, attacked shops, set police stations on fire, raided offices of the trade union and of political parties, and clashed with the police for several days in different parts of the country. Socialistworld.net spoke to a Tunisian revolutionary activist sympathising with the ideas of the CWI on the recent developments and their implications.

What are the origin and the context in which this violence has taken place?

In order to understand the recent events, it is important to realise first that the social climate in Tunisia has been extremely tense for several months. Nothing has changed, and there is a complete failure of the government’s policies to address the root causes of poverty, unemployment, rising prices, and so on. There have been continuing tensions between the government and the trade unions, and numerous strikes in all sectors of the economy, to which the authorities have responded with increasing hostility, including using militias to break them up. The government is desperate to find a way to prevent the working class from expressing its discontent and defending its interests.

Another important element is that a secular right-wing faction (people who are painting themselves as ‘progressive’ but who are organised around some elements of the old dictatorial regime, such Caid Essebsi, the ex-provisional Prime Minister) is re-affirming itself in opposition to the present Ennahda-led government.

Both of these wings are not happy that the debate in society has been dominated by social questions for weeks now. The leading party Ennahda is trying to avoid talking about these things as much as it can. And it has been a regular feature since last year that those in power are trying to divert attention from social questions and to feed division by exploiting issues related to religion and identity.

The picture given is that there is a supposed fundamental cleavage based around the place of religion in society. But for the majority of people, these are secondary questions. The most crucial needs to be addressed are jobs, infrastructure and social development, justice to the martyrs’ families, etc. On all these questions the government is hopeless and increasingly discredited.

It is within such a context that the violence launched by Salafist groups has taken place. One can only wonder if the fact that they are taking place now is a pure coincidence.

What triggered these riots?

It is a petty issue. A painting exhibition was supposedly at the heart of all this. The Salafists pretended that the paintings were against Muslim values, and wanted everybody to believe that religion was in danger because of a few supposedly unbelieving artists who were attacking God. Beyond the fact that this relates to the freedom of expression, the idea that this art exhibition was hurting Islam is not even true.

Some radical Imams and Salafist groups incited the violence. Moreover, the number two leader of Al-Quaeda, Ayman Zawahiri,made a public declaration just on the day before, calling Tunisian Muslims to rise up against a so-called “non-Islamist” government and to demand the application of the Shariah law.

In a matter of a few days things took an uncontrollable turn. Once the riots had begun, all sorts of bandits and marginalised and deprived youth took the streets as well. What followed were days of street violence and clashes between mainly Salafists and the riot police, in different parts of the country. These riots, however, didn’t have a large appeal or popular support. Contrary to the attitude of the population during the recent citywide general strikes that we have witnessed in many regions, the mass of the people didn’t take part but stayed on the sidelines.

What was the reaction of the government?

The government has been playing a balancing game with the Salafists since the beginning, and it continues to do so. On the one hand, Ennahda itself regularly tries to exploit religious sensitivities for its own political and electoral purposes, and generally didn’t intervene when the Salafists engaged in violent actions, in order not to hurt its own more radical base of support. Especially when the Salafists are taking action against left activists or attacking the trade unions, as happened on many occasions in the recent period, the government remained generally silent or lenient.

But this time they could not ignore the fact that these actions were provoking mass outrage among the population. At the same time, the government had been recently more and more pressurised by business people from the tourism sector, as well as by imperialist countries, to do something about these fanatical groups who by their actions are not favouring a “good climate for investment” and for the tourists to come back visiting the country.

That’s why they went for a crackdown, endorsing police intervention, the Interior Ministry even declaring that they would be willing to use live ammunition to quell further unrest (which they did, shooting dead one man in Sousse), and called the people involved in the riots “terrorists”, “extremists”, etc. The authorities imposed a 9pm-5am curfew in the capital, Tunis, as well as in seven other regions of the country, and arrested over 160 Salafists.

However, this still went hand-in-hand with proposals by Ennahda leaders to implement repressive laws condemning those who supposedly disrespect religious sensitivities, as well as with a call by the same party to demonstrate with “our Salafist brothers” after Friday’s prayers. But ultimately they pulled back from this last call, as its provocative character was “over the top”.

What is the appreciation of the government among the population?

It is clear that Ennahda has dropped dramatically in popularity, and has not the same margin of manoeuvre that they used to have in the past. Whenever a representative of the government travels into the regions, he is booed or his presence provokes clashes. I don’t think Ennahda will be able to repeat a score of over 40% in the elections as they did last November. A lot of people have voted Ennahda the last time, but won’t do it anymore.

Obviously Ennahda still maintains a certain base of support but it has been reduced. That’s why they had a tendency, despite their initial ‘moderate’ profile, to lean more and more upon radical elements to survive.

But people are angry that Ennahda is ruling with the same methods of brutality and nepotism as the RCD used to do. The party is using repressive laws set up by Ben Ali to deal with opponents, it places loyal figures in every sphere of the State, in the media, in the administration, in the justice system, and so on.

That is precisely why a figure of the old regime such as Essebsi has been able to make a comeback onto the political scene, by trying to exploit the rising popular anger against the ruling coalition (“coalition”, by the way, is an exaggerated term, as in reality the so-called troika doesn’t really exist: it is Ennahda which is the commanding machine of all this). Hence it is more than a possibility that old regime loyalists have also been involved in the recent clashes, in order to fuel a ‘strategy of tension’ which, they hope, would benefit this particular wing of the ruling class.

The working class especially is fed up with empty promises. The recent complementary budget which has been passed through in the Parliament is a provocation: it empties the pockets of the poor to give to the even poorer sections of society. Some subventions for poor families, as well as the construction of new social housing units have been decided, but it’s a drop in the ocean compared to the needs, and is mainly based on sharing misery instead of attacking the interests of the rich. It is also a way for the new regime to seed division between workers and the other layers of the poor, the unemployed, etc. That’s about all this government is capable of offering.

What is the response of the left in the present situation?

Faced with the danger of an emerging pole around Essebsi on the one hand, and the troika with its ambivalent attitude towards the Salafists on the other, the left needs to encourage and build an independent working class pole based on the UGTT and on the genuine demands of the revolution. We need to re-centre the debate on the issues that really matter for the people; the question is not of religious and non-religious people, but about fighting together for a society based on decent living standards for all, creating jobs for the unemployed, cleaning the State machine, etc.

The left organisations have a noticeable influence in the trade unions, but the problem is often that the political expression that they give to their work is below what is needed and doesn’t match the rapid radicalisation which is taking place among the masses in struggle. Some on the left, though they remain marginal at this stage, are even arguing now that faced with the danger of “islamisation” of the country, we should forget for a moment our strategic ambitions, and make an alliance with Essebsi and his clan.

We are willing to establish the necessary connection with the broader working class. For that purpose we need to stand uncompromisingly for the refusal of the payment of the debt inherited from the tyrant Ben Ali, for the nationalisation of the banks and of the big companies, for a steady development of the infrastructure on the basis of a massive public investment programme, especially in the interior regions.

We say there is no point of arguing against the present power if it is to fall back in the arms of people linked with the regime that the revolution just got rid of. During the recent crisis, we have encouraged initiatives based on the organisation of the people themselves to defend their neighbourhoods and their integrity against the violence of the Salafists. But we also fought consistently to defy the curfews imposed by the State and against police brutality, as we don’t want a State-imposed solution, with the military, the police and the national guard controlling our streets, as such a scenario would inevitably make our own struggle much more difficult.



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NEWS

Burkina Faso: Mass uprising ousts dictator
31/10/2014, CWI Reporters, Ivory Coast:
No to military rule! Continue mass struggle – the whole rotten system must go!

Ireland: Anti-water tax protest in Limerick
31/10/2014, Socialistworld.net:
Video of one of the city’s biggest protests

Kurdistan: Battle for Kobanê at a crossroads
31/10/2014, Serge Jordan, CWI:
What does US military ‘assistance’ mean for the Kurdish struggle?

Belgium: Government’s Thatcherite attacks provoke class confrontation
30/10/2014, Els Deschoemacker, LSP/PSL (Belgian section of the CWI), Brussels:
The right wing coalition must go, and all austerity policies!

Mexico: Wave of protests follow student "disappearances"
29/10/2014, Tim Heffernan, Socialist Alternative (CWI Canada), Toronto:
Latest US-backed ‘drugs war’ horror sends shock waves throughout Mexico

Nigeria: Vast social and class extremes
27/10/2014, Sophie Simcox, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
The unreported Nigeria - mass struggles by the working class

Africa: Ebola outbreak a deadly face of austerity
25/10/2014, Jon Dale, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Pharmaceutical industry/big corporations need to be brought into public ownership and resources used to provide urgent aid

Tunisia: Widespread scepticism over Parliamentary elections
24/10/2014, Election statement by the CWI Tunisia:
Pro-capitalist parties teaming up for more of the same - urgent need to rebuild a political voice for the working class and youth

Kurdistan: Defend Kobanê and all those threatened by ISIS, AKP and Imperialism
24/10/2014, Translation of a leaflet by Sosyalist Alternatif (CWI in Turkey):
For democratic working people’s defence and mass struggle against capitalism

Hong Kong: "Movement cannot be limited to ‘universal suffrage’ but must strive for socialism"
23/10/2014, Interview by Offensiv (socialist weekly newspaper in Sweden) with Dikang from Socialist Action (CWI Hong Kong):
Inside the ‘umbrella revolution’

Ireland: TD Paul Murphy tears up Irish Water pack in the Dail
22/10/2014, Socialistworld.net:
1 million refuse to register for water charges

Seattle: “Sawant ...with impressive, favorable rating”
22/10/2014, Stephan Kimmerle, CWI:
61% support for Kshama Sawant in her electoral district...Jess Spear`s campaign against one of the most powerful corporate politicians in Washington State gaining momentum...indications of yearning for representation for working class people

Britain: 100,000 attend TUC’s pay rise demo
21/10/2014, Socialist Party Reporters, London:
Calls for local government strike action to be reinstated

Scotland: 10,000 attend Hope Over Fear rally
16/10/2014, Matt Dobson, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI), Glasgow:
’Political awakening’ continues after independence referendum

Ireland :’The people have risen, they should not kneel down again’
15/10/2014, :
Paul Murphy TD (MP) makes maiden speech in Parliament

Scotland: SNP budget sees another £500 million cuts
10/10/2014, Philip Stott, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI):
For a ’no-cuts budget’ and mass campaign to win back billions stolen by ConDem government!

Middle East: Repel Islamic State and imperialism
08/10/2014, Paula Mitchell (edited version of an article in this week’s Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party – CWI England & Wales):
For democratic workers’ defence and Kurdish self-determination

New Zealand: National Party forms third successive government
04/10/2014, Socialist Voice (CWI NZ) Reporters:
Labour Party and the Left in crisis

Africa: Ebola crisis spreads
03/10/2014, Andy Ford, health sector, and Tim Sandle, from Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales) website:
Consequence of profit before health

Britain: Labour to continue austerity offensive
26/09/2014, Matt Gordon, from the Socialist (weekly paper of the Socialist Party - CWI England & Wales):
Labour conference a carefully stage-managed affair

Ireland South: Is Sinn Féin a genuine left alternative?
25/09/2014, Conor Payne, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Cork:
Seeking alliances with austerity parties

Britain: Capitalist parties in crisis after Scotland revolt
24/09/2014, Editorial from the Socialist (issue 826), weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Build a working class alternative

Iran: Petrochemical workers sentenced to jail and flogging
22/09/2014, Appeal from Campaign in Support of Iranian Workers’:
Protest against Iranian government’s brutal sentences!

Environment: Video of Climate Summit meeting with Kshama Sawant
22/09/2014, Video from The Real News:
Video of New York City Climate Summit meeting with Bernie Sanders, Kshama Sawant, Bill KcKibben, Naomi Klein, Chris Hedges

Scotland: 1.6 million vote Yes in a working class revolt against austerity
19/09/2014, Philip Stott, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI in Scotland):
Urgent to build new mass party for the working class

Northern Ireland: Ian Paisley - peace-maker or war-monger?
18/09/2014, Michael Cleary, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast:
A right-wing, sectarian demagogue who courted paramilitary violence

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

A ‘third industrial revolution’
28/10/2014, Peter Taaffe, general secretary of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
New technological innovations are having a huge impact on the capitalist system, a subject explored in a new book, The Zero Marginal Cost Society.

Britain: Anniversary of first issue of Militant newspaper
24/10/2014, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party general secretary, from this week’s Socialist (paper of the Socialist Party – CWI England & Wales):
50 years of socialist ideas and workers’ struggle

Spain: Death knells of "Transition" regime
23/10/2014, Danny Byrne, CWI:
Catalonia; ’Podemos’, and the left

Kazakhstan: Brutal repression in imperialism’s interests
20/10/2014, Mike Whale, Secretary of Campaign Kazakhstan (first published in October 2014 issue of Socialism Today):
Workers pay the price for crony capitalism

Is the US promoting a “colour revolution” in Hong Kong?
18/10/2014, Dikang, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong):
Beijing’s scare propaganda doesn’t stand up to examination

Britain: Workers need a pay rise - how can we pay for it?
17/10/2014, Peter Taaffe, general secretary of the Socialist Party (CWI in England and Wales):
End poverty, inequality and capitalism

Ireland: Byelection triumph marks turning point in anti-austerity struggle
14/10/2014, Eddie McCabe, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
Paul Murphy wins parliamentary seat as 100,000 march against water charges

Middle East: US-led policy of air attacks on Islamic State lies in ruins
13/10/2014, Tony Saunois, CWI:
As battle for Kobane rages, IS forces make major gains in Iraq

Ireland: Paul Murphy elected to Irish parliament in stunning byelection victory
12/10/2014, socialistworld.net:
Anti-Austerity Alliance victory shocks political establishment, reflects mass revolt against water charges and austerity

South Africa: "A workers’ party must emerge"
11/10/2014, John Malanga, Democratic Socialist Movement (CWI South Africa):
Dire position of South African capitalism and inequality adds momentum towards creation of workers’ party

Israel/Palestine: After the Gaza war
07/10/2014, Shahar Benhorin, Socialist Struggle Movement (CWI Israel-Palestine):
No justice for Palestinians and no peace for the region - For a socialist solution!

Hong Kong: Pro-regime thugs attack protesters
06/10/2014, Dikang, Socialist Action (CWI Hong Kong):
Organise democratic defence committees to repel attacks and kick out CY Leung’s government!

Kurdistan: The battle for Kobanê
02/10/2014, Serge Jordan, CWI:
Regional war poses new challenges for struggle for Kurdish self-determination

Iraq /Syria: US-led bombings will worsen divisions
01/10/2014, Judy Beishon, from the Socialist (weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party – CWI England & Wales):
Stop imperialist slaughter!

Hong Kong: Massive anti-government protests after attempted police crackdown
30/09/2014, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info:
Anger over police violence fuels spontaneous “umbrella revolution” and growing strike movement

Scotland: Independence referendum - A working-class revolt
24/09/2014, Peter Taaffe, General Secretary, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
The referendum has turned British politics upside down – even though the No vote won

Greece: "This destruction of workers’ lives serves the bankers"
23/09/2014, Speech by Apostolis Kasimeriss, an Athens bus driver, to Italian socialists:
“We must all keep going…we have no other way to survive than to fight-back”

Belgium: Right wing coalition aims for structural attack on workers
19/09/2014, Eric Byl, LSP/PSL (Belgian section of the CWI), Brussels:
Massive social resistance is looming

Sweden: Conservative collapse, extreme-right gains
17/09/2014, Per Olsson, from Offensiv (newspaper of the Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna - CWI Sweden):
CWI success, defended four council seats

US: Inequality and fight-back in the world’s richest country
16/09/2014, Peter Taaffe, General Secretary, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Socialist Alternative articulates political strategy to break from Democratic Party and capitalism

Brazil: Will elections mark the end of the PT government?
15/09/2014, Andre Ferrari, LSR (CWI in Brazil):
Space for Left alternative to win support

Ukraine: Fragile ceasefire holds but country remains “a tinder box”
10/09/2014, Rob Jones, CWI, Moscow:
Only united working class action can secure lasting peace

Scotland: 10 days that can shake British capitalism to its foundations
08/09/2014, Philip Stott, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI in Scotland):
“In the past four weeks support for the union has drained away at an astonishing rate. The Yes campaign has not just invaded No territory; it has launched a blitzkrieg.”

Britain: Crisis brewing on all fronts
05/09/2014, Hannah Sell, deputy general secretary of the Socialist Party (CWI in England and Wales):
The 2015 general election is a mere eight months away yet impossible to call. But what is clear is that none of the capitalist parties hold any real attraction for working class voters.

Beijing slams door shut on Hong Kong democracy
02/09/2014, Statement by Socialist Action (CWI Hong Kong):
Mass resistance against one-party dictatorship is the only way forward!