Tunisians emerge from lockdown into mosques and cafes

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Tunisians cooks sell a local version of the donut in the village of Sidi Bou Said, some 20 kilometers northeast of Tunis, on May 30, 2020, after shops reopened following a 3 month shutdown. (AFP)
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Tunisians walk in a street in the village of Sidi Bou Said, some 20 kilometers northeast of Tunis, on May 30, 2020, after shops reopened following a 3 month shutdown due to COVID-19. (AFP)
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Updated 04 June 2020

Tunisians emerge from lockdown into mosques and cafes

  • Schools will stay closed to most students until the start of the new academic year in September
  • The government still restricts social gatherings at homes and urges the wearing of masks

TUNIS: Tunisians returned to mosques and cafes on Thursday as the country ended most lockdown restrictions after largely containing the spread of the novel coronavirus for now.
Sitting with friends at the Brazil coffeeshop in the Ibn Khaldoun district of Tunis, schoolteacher Nizar Jamal said he was glad to resume his daily chats with friends.
“We are again breathing the air of life. We missed the smell of coffee a lot,” he said.
Tunisia in March closed its international borders, stopped all movement between towns and cities, shuttered mosques, shops, schools, cafes and restaurants, imposed a nightly curfew and stopped people leaving homes at day for most reasons.
It has recorded 1,048 cases of the coronavirus and 48 deaths, compared with nearly 10,000 cases in neighboring Algeria. The only recent cases came from people arriving into quarantine from abroad.
Schools will stay closed to most students until the start of the new academic year in September and the government still restricts social gatherings at homes and urges the wearing of masks. International borders will reopen fully in late June.
In another Tunis district, Menzah 9, a cafe owner who gave only his first name, Mahmoud, said he was relieved to have reopened.
“This cafe provides work for 20 families. We have suffered a lot from stopping work for three months and we hope to make up for it soon,” he said.
Tunisia’s government has announced compensation measures to help businesses and needy families with the economic effects of the lockdown and has agreed a package of financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund.


Court testimony claims Turkish general killed after discovering Qatar extremist funding

Updated 04 August 2020

Court testimony claims Turkish general killed after discovering Qatar extremist funding

  • Explosive courtroom transcript says Brig. Gen. Semih Terzi was killed because he knew too much about Turkish general's murky dealings in Syria
  • Turkish officials accused of embezzling money sent from Qatar to arm Syrian militants

LONDON: A Turkish general killed during a failed coup was executed after he found out Qatar was funneling money to extremist groups in Syria through Turkey, according to explosive courtroom claims.

Brig. Gen. Semih Terzi was shot dead in July 2016 during an attempt by some military officers to overthrow the government of Recip Tayyip Erdogan. The alleged plotters were accused of being followers of the exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen.

According to a courtroom transcript obtained by the anti-Erdogan Nordic Monitor website, Terzi’s killing was ordered by Lt. Gen. Zekai Aksakalli, the then head of Turkey’s Special Forces Command.

The website claims the testimony came from Col. Firat Alakus, who worked in the intelligence section of the Special Forces Command, during a hearing at the 17th High Criminal Court in Ankara in March, 2019.

Alakus said Terzi had discovered that Aksakalli was working secretly with the Turkish intelligence agency (MIT) in running illegal operations in Syria for personal gain.

“[Terzi] knew how much of the funding delivered [to Turkey] by Qatar for the purpose of purchasing weapons and ammunition for the opposition was actually used for that and how much of it was actually used by public officials, how much was embezzled,” Alakus said. 

He added that Terzi’s knowledge of Aksakalli’s murky dealings was the real reason Aksakalli ordered his execution.

Terzi was killed after Aksakalli ordered him back to Ankara from a border province as the failed coup attempt unfolded, Alakus said.

Other accounts say Terzi was one of the main coup plotters and was killed leading an attempt to capture the special forces headquarters in the capital.

Along with the Qatari claim, Alakus said Terzi also knew the details of Turkey’s involvement in oil smuggling from Syria and how government officials aided extremist militant commanders.

He also objected to Turkish intelligence supplying weapons and training to extremist Syrian factions who were passed off as moderate opposition fighters.

“[Terzi’s murder] had to do with a trap devised by Zekai Aksakalli, who did not want such facts to come out into the open,” Alakus said.

Alakus was jailed for life in June 2019 after being convicted for taking part in the coup.