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The Tunisian MP who was slapped but not beaten

International desk || shiningbd

Published: 11:55, 18 July 2021  
The Tunisian MP who was slapped but not beaten

Abir Moussi is a thorn in the side of political Islamists in Tunisia

When Tunisian tennis star Ons Jabeur hit global headlines for becoming the first North African woman to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals, another Tunisian woman also made the news but for all the wrong reasons.

Abir Moussi, the outspoken leader of the opposition Al-Dustur al-Hurr party, was slapped and kicked as she was filming a parliamentary session on her mobile phone in June.

The perpetrators were two male members of parliament from an Islamist coalition.

They then threw water at her, followed by the empty bottles and the whole incident was caught on TV cameras - to the shock and bewilderment of many in the Arab world.

Ms Moussi is a passionate 47-year-old lawyer and indefatigable campaigner against political Islam and Tunisia's version of it - known as the Nahda movement - which forms the biggest bloc in parliament.

She was once a solid supporter of the ousted dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, and regards herself and her small party as the guardians of the secular tradition laid down by the founder of modern Tunisia, Habib Bourgiba.

He led the country to independence and became its first president, serving from1957 to 1987, and introducing women-friendly legislation such as banning polygamy.

In parliament, Ms Moussi cuts an extraordinary figure.

She attends sessions wearing a helmet and a flak jacket because, she says, she has received death threats from Islamists.