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Salafists vs. trade unions in Tunisia

The International Trade Union Confederation reports:

Regional offices of the [Tunisian] national union centre UGTT in three locations have been burned down by Salafists under the slogan “There is only God and the UGTT is the enemy of God”. UGTT regional offices were main organising points for the revolution to depose former President Ben Ali.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary said “Democracy is under attack in Tunisia today, and the Salafists have the union movement as a primary target. There are grave concerns for the safety of trade union leaders, and others who stand for people’s democratic rights and the rule of law.”

The UGTT offices in Bou Salem were destroyed and its bureau in Ben Gardane were burned out in news just received by the ITUC, while union centre’s headquarters in Jendouba in the North West were firebombed at 2am local time this morning. Political parties which have shown support for the UGTT, including the PDP, Republican Party, The Forum, and the Alwatad Movement have also been targetted along with courts, post offices, art galleries and even police.

“The authorities need to move quickly to put an end to this violence, which has been building for some time. The people organising these attacks have been generating a climate of fear and intimidation which threatens the very development of a democratic Tunisia,” said Sharan Burrow.

This should surprise no one. What trade unions stand for at their best– the unity of working people across barriers of race, ethnicity and religion– is precisely the sort of thing Islamic extremists despise most.

(Hat tip: Andrew Coates)