During a meeting with members of the Tunisian press at the Kasbah on Saturday, April 23, Prime Minister Habib Essid said the Government had filed three legal complaints against the Salafist leaning political party Hizb Ettahrir (also spelled Hizb Ut Tahrir) and ‘several parties’ without further specification; Essid added the complaints could result in a freeze of its activities and the dissolution of Hizb Ettahrir.
Essid did not specify the exact charges the complaints against Hizb Ettahrir entailed, nor did he name specific organizations, other than Hizb Ettahrir, that ‘several parties’ could include when according to Kapitalis.com, during the meeting Prime Minister Essid told reporters “The activities of several parties will soon be frozen. These parties continue to disseminate extremist discourse. A list of the names of these parties will be made public sometime next week. And it [the list] is very long, believe me,”
Later on Saturday Kamel Jendoubi, the Minister for Relations with the Constitutional Bodies, Civil Society and Human Rights took to the airwaves telling both Shems FM and Jawahara FM that ‘more than 157 associations are suspected of being connected to terrorist organizations.’ Jendoubi added that the government was working on the strengthening the text of legislation relating to the application of emergency measures against organizations suspected of threatening the security of the country and its citizens.
Following violent clashes last week between demonstrators and security forces on the island of Kerkennah after the dispersal by force of sit in protests at the Petrofac natural gas production facility Prime Minister Essid accused Hizb Ettahrir and the Popular Front (a secular leftist political party) of instigating the clashes and having been involved in them.
It is not the first time Hizb Ettahrir, which was only authorized as a political party in 2012 and claims to reject violence, has been singled out by Prime Minister Habib Essid. Days after the Islamic State claimed attack on a beach resort in Sousse in June of last year, Essid said a file had been compiled by the government on the ‘group’s excesses’ and Kamel Jendoubi told Shems FM he had given the group a deadline to ensure that its party bylaws were in line with the Constitution.
During employment protests in January which followed the death of unemployed protester Ridha Yahyaoui in Kasserine, seven members of Hizb Ettahrir were arrested in Sousse and the Ettadhamen suburb of Tunis (Governorate of Ariana) which saw incidents of rioting, for distributing pamphlets which the authorities said constituted an ‘incitement to violence’; the party refuted the claims regarding the content which it said called for peaceful protests.