Mr. Speaker, I have twice had the opportunity to visit Tunisia. I discovered a wonderful country, rich in history and full of warm, respectful people who are starved for justice and freedom. In 2011, the Arab Spring was born there and, shortly thereafter, Tunisians exercised their right to vote.
Now the situation is deteriorating, to the point where destabilizing forces assassinated Chokri Belaid as he was leaving his house on the morning of Wednesday, February 6. He was the respected secretary general and spokesperson for the Democratic Patriots’ Movement and a member of Popular Front, a coalition of opposition parties.
Violent protests broke out that same day. Two days later, hundreds of thousands of people joined the funeral procession as it made its way to the Djellaz cemetery. Our condolences go out to his wife and two daughters.
Violence has no place in democracy, except to defend it. We hope that the people of Tunisia will find the path to freedom, and we hope that path is a peaceful one.