Tunisia: Union Leaders Arrested for Assaulting Lawmaker
Tunisian authorities arrested four labor union leaders in the southeastern city of Sfax after being accused of assaulting lawmaker Muhammad Al-Afas, a member of the Dignity Coalition in parliament, on March 24.
Seven union leaders were initially arrested for forcing Al-Afas to leave one of the meetings. However, after preliminary investigations, three of them were released, while the other four were kept in custody.
Al-Afas was subjected to physical and verbal abuse, as well as theft.
Video footage showing Al-Afas beaten up and his clothes torn was circulated. He accused the assailants of expelling him from a meeting, despite being a lawmaker and a member of the Sfax provincial health council.
According to Al-Afas, the attackers broke his glasses and stole his phone.
The Tunisian parliament voiced its support to Al-Afas and called for opening an investigation into the incident.
The head of the Dignity Coalition circulated the video footage showing Al-Afas assaulted and accused unionists at the provincial hospital in Sfax of being behind the attack.
The Dignity Coalition, an Islamist opposition coalition with 21 parliament seats, has become a strong political power in Tunisia.
Tunisian General Labor Union Spokesman Sami al-Taheri said that extremist parties, such as Dignity Coalition and Errahma, rising to power in the country will have “grave consequences.”
The Coalitions Head, Seifeddine Makhlouf, for his part, accused the Union of exploiting the hard work of laborers.
Makhlouf said that a number of Union leaders have become wealthy under suspicious circumstances, and vowed to expose the corrupt.
Makhlouf’s statements enraged top Union leaders who denied the accusations and said that the Union uses the most modern systems of governance and that all expenditures are documented and accounted for.