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Latin America
A new turn?

25/04/2015: Historic handshake between Barack Obama and Raúl Castro, turmoil in Venezuela, and stalled reforms in Bolivia – as well as crises in Brazil – symbolise a new turn in Latin America and the Caribbean

  Latin America

Finland
Worst ever election result for traditional Left

24/04/2015: Finns Party second biggest in parliament

  Finland

Iran
Proposed nuclear deal reflects transformed Middle East

24/04/2015: In aftermath of disastrous Iraq occupation, Obama administration balancing between region’s forces

  Iran, Middle East

Scotland
Labour face annihilation as millions seek an answer to austerity

23/04/2015: The SNP, according to the polls, will win 53 of Scotland’s 59 Westminster MPs

  Scotland

 Video
Paul Murphy speaking at anti-water charges demo in Dublin

23/04/2015: Socialist Partty (CWI) and Anti-Austerity Alliance TD speaks at march of tens of thosuands against water charges on April 18

  Ireland Republic, Video

 Video
Interview with Jawad Ahmed, famous Pakistani singer and activist

22/04/2015: Jawad Ahmed, Singer and central committee member of International Youth and Workers Movement (IYWM) from Pakistan spoke to CWI about the work of IYWM.

  Pakistan, Video

South Africa
Organise against xenophobia – a programme for our communities

21/04/2015: Build a country-wide socialist civic movement. Fight for jobs, houses and services for all

  Africa, South Africa

 Video
TUSC 100% anti-austerity election broadcast

20/04/2015: Broadcast goes out on all 5 national terrestrial channels

  Britain, Video

Britain
Labour - party of cuts

19/04/2015: Oppose the ’logic of capitalism’

  Britain

Tunisia
After the Bardo terrorist attack

18/04/2015: New class battles loom

  Tunisia

 Video
Paul Murphy attacks bosses’ victimisation of strikers

17/04/2015: Socialist Partty (CWI) and Anti-Austerity Alliance TD speaks in Irish Parliament

  Ireland Republic, Video

US
National day of strikes and protests for $15

17/04/2015: Snapshot of the movement – the fight for $15 in 7 major cities

  US

 Video
Kshama Sawant on Democracy Now

16/04/2015: Socialist Seattle councillor debates Hillary Clinton run for President

  US, Video

Ireland North
Hundreds protest against racist arson attack

15/04/2015: Build a united mass movement to challenge racism, sectarianism and all forms of bigotry

  Ireland North

Yemen
Brutal onslaught on country’s poor

15/04/2015: For unity of workers and poor against imperialism and sectarianism

  Yemen

Québec
A hot spring in the making?

14/04/2015: Students take strike action against austerity

  Quebec

China’s feminists
A victory for protests in China and worldwide

14/04/2015: Five women activists released in rare climb down by Beijing regime

  China

France
First one-day strike against austerity gets big response

13/04/2015: 300, 000 people marched on demonstrations across France on Thursday 9 April

  France

Australia
Budget - Who should pay for the economic crisis?

13/04/2015: Federal government preparing the ground for their second budget

  Australia

Britain
UKIP blame immigration for problems facing working class

12/04/2015: Workers’ unity to defend pay jobs and services

  Britain

Panama 2015 Trade Union and Social Alternative Summit

11/04/2015: For an end to imperialism and capitalism, long live socialist and revolutionary united solidarity in our Americas!

  Latin America

Kenya
The Garissa massacre, Al-Shabaab and US imperialism

10/04/2015: Growing regional destabilisation

  Kenya, US

US
40,000 Seattle workers get pay rise

08/04/2015: Coalition of students and workers demand $15 minimum wage at University of Washington

  US

Australia
Anti-racist protesters vastly outnumber ‘Reclaim Australia’ Melbourne rally

07/04/2015: Only ‘minority’ to blame for society’s problems is ultra-rich 1%

  Australia

Climate change
Looking for a cheap fix

06/04/2015: The cyclone that devastated the Pacific island of Vanuatu in March, the most severe ever recorded in the region, highlighted again the very likely connection between extreme weather events and global warming.

  Environment

Nigeria
Ruling party crumbles in historic election

05/04/2015: But only mass struggle can guarantee the interests of workers and poor masses under buhari’s presidency

  Nigeria

Scotland
Is the SNP: a threat to the political establishment?

04/04/2015: The SNP (Scottish National Party) looks set to win the majority of Scottish seats in the general election

  Scotland

Economy
What low oil prices cost the world economy

03/04/2015: The sudden plunge of oil and gas prices has underlined the volatility in the world capitalist economy

  World Economy

 Video
Paul Murphy speaks in support of striking workers

02/04/2015: Socialist MP challenges Labour Deputy Prime Minister in parliament

  Ireland Republic, Video

Scotland
Indefinite strike by Glasgow Council Homeless workers

01/04/2015: Workers treated unfairly by council for years

  Scotland

South Africa
Cosatu splits as ‘Vavi’ expelled

01/04/2015: Expulsion opens new chapter in working class struggle

  Africa, South Africa

Singapore
Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew dies

31/03/2015: Apologist for neo-liberalism and autocracy

  Singapore

France
Elections punish Valls and Hollande

31/03/2015: Department results show need for fightback against austerity and racism

  France

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

Finland: Worst ever election result for traditional Left
24/04/2015, Jonas Brännberg and Juha Tapio for CWI in Finland:
Finns Party second biggest in parliament

Scotland: Labour face annihilation as millions seek an answer to austerity
23/04/2015, Philip Stott, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI in Scotland):
The SNP, according to the polls, will win 53 of Scotland’s 59 Westminster MPs

Video: Paul Murphy speaking at anti-water charges demo in Dublin
23/04/2015, Socialistworld.net:
Socialist Partty (CWI) and Anti-Austerity Alliance TD speaks at march of tens of thosuands against water charges on April 18

Video: Interview with Jawad Ahmed, famous Pakistani singer and activist
22/04/2015, socialistworld.net:
Jawad Ahmed, Singer and central committee member of International Youth and Workers Movement (IYWM) from Pakistan spoke to CWI about the work of IYWM.

South Africa: Organise against xenophobia – a programme for our communities
21/04/2015, Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) leaflet text:
Build a country-wide socialist civic movement. Fight for jobs, houses and services for all

Video: TUSC 100% anti-austerity election broadcast
20/04/2015, socialistworld.net:
Broadcast goes out on all 5 national terrestrial channels

Britain: Labour - party of cuts
19/04/2015, Editorial from The Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Oppose the ’logic of capitalism’

Video: Paul Murphy attacks bosses’ victimisation of strikers
17/04/2015, Socialistworld.net:
Socialist Partty (CWI) and Anti-Austerity Alliance TD speaks in Irish Parliament

US: National day of strikes and protests for $15
17/04/2015, Socialist Alternative (CWI in US) reporters:
Snapshot of the movement – the fight for $15 in 7 major cities

Video: Kshama Sawant on Democracy Now
16/04/2015, socialistworld.net:
Socialist Seattle councillor debates Hillary Clinton run for President

Ireland North: Hundreds protest against racist arson attack
15/04/2015, Daniel Waldron, Socialist Party (CWI), Belfast:
Build a united mass movement to challenge racism, sectarianism and all forms of bigotry

Québec: A hot spring in the making?
14/04/2015, Deirdre Grégoire, Alternative Socialiste (CWI in Quebec):
Students take strike action against austerity

China’s feminists: A victory for protests in China and worldwide
14/04/2015, chinaworker.info reporters:
Five women activists released in rare climb down by Beijing regime

France: First one-day strike against austerity gets big response
13/04/2015, Report from website of Gauche Revolutionnaire (CWI in France):
300, 000 people marched on demonstrations across France on Thursday 9 April

Australia: Budget - Who should pay for the economic crisis?
13/04/2015, Socialist Party (CWI in Australia) editorial:
Federal government preparing the ground for their second budget

Britain: UKIP blame immigration for problems facing working class
12/04/2015, Editorial of The Socialist (issue 851), weekly paper of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Workers’ unity to defend pay jobs and services

Panama 2015 Trade Union and Social Alternative Summit
11/04/2015, The Committee for a Worker’s International, via its Venezuelan Section Socialismo Revolucionario, greets the Panama 2015 Trade Union and Social Alternative Summit.:
For an end to imperialism and capitalism, long live socialist and revolutionary united solidarity in our Americas!

Kenya: The Garissa massacre, Al-Shabaab and US imperialism
10/04/2015, Shaun Arendse, CWI South Africa:
Growing regional destabilisation

US: 40,000 Seattle workers get pay rise
08/04/2015, Kailyn Nicholson, republished from 15Now.org:
Coalition of students and workers demand $15 minimum wage at University of Washington

Scotland: Dundee porters and Glasgow council workers on indefinite strike
08/04/2015, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI) Reporters:
Build solidarity now!

Australia: Anti-racist protesters vastly outnumber ‘Reclaim Australia’ Melbourne rally
07/04/2015, Socialist Party (CWI Australia) Reporters:
Only ‘minority’ to blame for society’s problems is ultra-rich 1%

Climate change: Looking for a cheap fix
06/04/2015, Pete Dickenson, article from Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
The cyclone that devastated the Pacific island of Vanuatu in March, the most severe ever recorded in the region, highlighted again the very likely connection between extreme weather events and global warming.

Nigeria: Ruling party crumbles in historic election
05/04/2015, By National Executive Committee Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM – CWI in Nigeria):
But only mass struggle can guarantee the interests of workers and poor masses under buhari’s presidency

Scotland: Is the SNP: a threat to the political establishment?
04/04/2015, Philip Stott, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI):
The SNP (Scottish National Party) looks set to win the majority of Scottish seats in the general election

Video: Paul Murphy speaks in support of striking workers
02/04/2015, socialistworld.net:
Socialist MP challenges Labour Deputy Prime Minister in parliament

Australia: Counter-protests set for ’Reclaim Australia’ rallies
02/04/2015, Mel Gregson, from The Socialist (monthly magazine of the Socialist Party - CWI Australia):
Stand against racism & Islamophobia!

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Latin America: A new turn?
25/04/2015, Tony Saunois, article from May issue of Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Historic handshake between Barack Obama and Raúl Castro, turmoil in Venezuela, and stalled reforms in Bolivia – as well as crises in Brazil – symbolise a new turn in Latin America and the Caribbean

Iran: Proposed nuclear deal reflects transformed Middle East
24/04/2015, Robert Bechert, CWI:
In aftermath of disastrous Iraq occupation, Obama administration balancing between region’s forces

Tunisia: After the Bardo terrorist attack
18/04/2015, Serge Jordan:
New class battles loom

Yemen: Brutal onslaught on country’s poor
15/04/2015, Judy Beishon, from The Socialist (weekly paper of the CWI England & Wales):
For unity of workers and poor against imperialism and sectarianism

Economy: What low oil prices cost the world economy
03/04/2015, Lynn Walsh, article from Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
The sudden plunge of oil and gas prices has underlined the volatility in the world capitalist economy

Israel: Netanyahu mobilises far right to win election
25/03/2015, Yasha Marmer, Socialist Struggle Movement, Israel-Palestine:
New coalition will face unresolved crises and bitter struggles

Italy: The instability of domestic capitalism
24/03/2015, Marco Veruggio, ControCorrente (CWI Italy):
Political vacuum pushes FIOM to take initiative

Greece: Varoufakis’ “erratic Marxism” is not the answer
23/03/2015, Peter Taaffe, from Socialism Today (monthly magazine of the Socialist Party, England & Wales):
Necessary to clarify ideas upon which successful struggles of European working class will be conducted

Belgium: No agreement reached between unions and government over austerity
20/03/2015, Eric Byl, LSP/PSL (Belgian section of the CWI), Brussels:
New action plan against right wing government takes off

Ukraine: Conflict unresolved after ’Minsk-2’ agreement
18/03/2015, Rob Jones, CWI, Moscow:
Only independent working-class mass movement can remove the region’s authoritarian rulers

Greece: Syriza’s first months in power
07/03/2015, Andreas Payiatsos, from Xekinima (newspaper of the CWI Greece):
The working class and social movements must enter the struggle for their rights

Quebec: Towards a hot spring
02/03/2015, Deirdre and Bruno, Socialist Alternative (CWI Quebec):
Disrupt them like they disrupt us!

Greece showdown
26/02/2015, Article to be published in the March issue of Socialism Today (magazine of the Socialist Party, CWI in England and Wales):
Niall Mulholland interviewed NICOS ANASTASIADES, of Xekinima (CWI Greece), just as Syriza leaders agreed a four-month bail-out extension with the EU.

Libya: War-torn country becoming new hub for IS activities
25/02/2015, Serge Jordan (CWI):
Libyan people bearing the brunt of NATO’s fiasco

Europe: Eurozone time-bomb
25/02/2015, Lynn Walsh, article from Socialism Today (magazine of the Socialist Party of England and Wales):
Mired in recession, the eurozone is haunted by the spectre of stagnation

Greece: Syriza retreats under Troika threats
24/02/2015, Nicos Anastasiades, Xekinima (CWI Greece), Thessaloniki:
Popular mood shows anti-austerity, socialist policies would win huge support

History: The political legacy of Malcolm X
21/02/2015, Eljeer Hawkins, Socialist Alternative:
50 years after his assassination

Spain: Is ‘Podemos’ the Spanish Syriza?
16/02/2015, Danny Byrne, CWI:
Dangers of “moderation” and domestication

Egypt: Regime brutality on fourth anniversary of revolution
10/02/2015, David Johnson, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Masses will regain confidence and willingness to fight

Greece: Not a single step back!
08/02/2015, Statement by the Editorial Board of Xekinima (CWI Greece):
Conflict between SYRIZA government and EU escalates

Kurdistan: ‘Islamic State’ driven out of Kobanê
02/02/2015, Serge Jordan, CWI:
Will the end of Kobanê’s siege turn the tide against IS?

Greece: Why did Syriza and the KKE fail to reach agreement?
29/01/2015, Article from Xekhinima (CWI Greece) website [dated 26 January 2015] translated and slightly edited:
For socialist policies to end austerity nightmare!

Greece: Syriza comes to power, as old ruling parties collapse
27/01/2015, Niall Mulholland, socialistworld.net, interviews Andros Payiatsos, from Xekinima (CWI Greece):
Left parties fail to form government - Syriza goes into coalition with populist right Independent Greeks

Cuba: Diplomatic relations with US restored, embargo eased
24/01/2015, Tony Saunois, CWI:
Threat of capitalist restoration accelerates