22 March 2013 4:54 pm | | 12


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Abou Zayd Attounssi on “Attasiaa Massaa

Footage of a young Tunisian man who says he just returned to the country after fighting in Syria for eight months has been widely circulated and once again raised questions and debates about Tunisians involved in the Syrian conflict.

Going under the name Abou Zayd Attounssi, the man said he originally went to Syria because he felt his religion required him to engage in jihad against “the enemy.”

But he said on the “Attasiaa Massaa” (9pm) talk show that he became disillusioned because “most of the fighters within the Free Syrian army are fighting for the spoils of war and the foreign aid they supposedly get.”

The show also featured the father of Hamza Rjeb, a 24-year-old disabled Tunisian man who went to Syria to fight. He said the Tunisian government should take full responsibility for his son’s situation and for allowing groups in the country to “brainwash” his son.

“For every Tunisian fighter brought to Syria, Qatar pays 3,000 dollars to the Syrian rebels,” Ahmed Youssef, a pro-Assad journalist, claimed in a conversation with Tunisia Live.

He added that “most of the Tunisians come from disadvantaged regions in Tunisia with low unemployment.”

When asked about the fate of Tunisians who fight in Syria, Youssef replied, “this is a war; there are no statistics. They are considered mercenaries.”

There are conflicting opinions about the exact number of Tunisians fighting in Syria. Omar Cheick, an anti-Assad journalist residing in Syria, claimed that the Tunisian presence does not exceed 1,000 and that they should stay at home instead of coming to Syria. But Youssef reported that more than 3,500 Tunisians are currently fighting in the country.

Although fighters such as Abou Zayd claim they went to Syria out of a sense of religious obligation, “Islam has been always a peaceful religion. Fighting in Syria has never been considered as a jihad,” Othman Battick, mufti of the Tunisian Republic, told Tunisia Live.

“This is why we are working closely with imams to raise awareness among Tunisian youth during Friday prayers,” he added.

Several media have also reported that 15 Tunisian women have become involved in the Syrian conflict by offering their bodies to rebel fighters.

Battick described such actions as “nonsense with no relation to Islam.”

When contacted for comment, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had no information related to Tunisians in Syria.

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Comments (12)

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  1. Mohamed benamor says:

    There is other way of making a living than become a mercenary it is like becoming a drug dealer because it is easy money, that what the individual think, until he gets in trouble. I work in a barrio full of gang members and drug dealers, and that is the excuse they all give.

  2. This is an interesting post. Thanks for sharing this one Salma.

  3. yassine says:

    Tunisian media is continuing to transmit opinions rather than news. At least, they had to give a voice for those who have a different point of view.

  4. Nawaf says:

    If he has no money to survive, then it should not be the reason to fight in Syria. His rebellion is to be directed against the Tunisian government, or he can take life with gasoline and fire

  5. Patrick Batchelder says:

    Leave religion OUT of conflict. Tunisian men and their families have to eat. Food costs money. If there are no jobs here men must do something or starve.

    • angela says:

      @ Patrick…..so does that mean go kill fellow muslims….or anyone for that matter….if he even showed any remorse it could be different. he is a killer for hire. Its haram so dont know why he is sporting a villiage this is just another example of Muslims who twist the law to their own ends. If he admits he is a killer then he should be charged and jailed.

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