Tunisia: Ennahdha deputy chief 'almost assassinated' when detained, wife claims

Tunisia: Ennahdha deputy chief 'almost assassinated' when detained, wife claims
2 min read
19 January, 2022
Hunger-striking Ennahdha deputy chairman Noureddine Bhiri was 'almost murdered' when being detained by plainclothes Tunisian security officers on 31 December, his wife has said.
Noureddine Bhiri has been refusing food and medication since his arrest on 31 December [AFP via Getty]

Tunisia's security forces almost killed a chronically ill member of the moderate Islamist Ennahdha party when they detained him on New Year's Eve, his wife has said.

Noureddine Bhiri, Ennahdha's second-in-command, was detained by plainclothes officers on 31 December. He went on a hunger strike the same day, refusing food and medication.

The politician, who suffers from multiple chronic illnesses, was rushed to hospital two days later.

Ex-justice minister Bhiri "would have been subjected to an assassination attempt if I wasn't with him when he was kidnapped," his wife Saeeda Akrimi said at a press conference on Tuesday.

Bhiri was detained on terror-related charges, Tunisia Interior Minister Taoufik Charfeddine announced on 3 January.

The New Arab's Arabic-language sister service, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported that Bhiri and another official were detained on suspicion of "illegally" providing Tunisian travel documents to a Syrian man and his wife.

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Akrimi said that the charges were false, and that her husband has been targeted "since 25 July 2021, especially through the Facebook pages of President of the Republic Kais Saied".

Saied dismissed parliament and removed the prime minister from office on that date, in a move widely characterized as a "coup" and a "power grab".

Bhiri warned on his page that "he would be assassinated," after being intensely targeted there, Akrimi said.

He remains in hospital and is still refusing food and medication, according to Akrimi.

Doctors have told her that "his condition is very serious, and he may enter a coma at any moment," and that he may never walk again, she added.

"President Saied, Interior Minister Taoufik Charfeddine and everyone who planned the kidnapping of Bhiri are responsible for the deterioration of his health," she said.

Ennahdha demanded on Tuesday that Bhiri be released immediately.