Tunisian Parliament deputy Sahbi Samara repeatedly slapped opposition MP and leader of the Free Destourian Party, Abir Moussi, before other lawmakers intervened and rushed to her rescue.
It was unclear why the deputy attacked Moussi. The incident represents the latest episode of chaos that has engulfed Tunisia’s tumultuous parliamentary sessions.
A widely circulated video footage shows Samara getting up from his seat and moving swiftly to the opposition figure while she was streaming the session directly on her mobile phone, then he hit her repeatedly.
Tension rose in the parliament because of a sit-in staged by the Free Destourian MPs who protested against the adoption of a deal to allow the Qatar Fund for Development to be headquartered in Tunisia.
Moussi and the Free Destourian deputies are fierce opponents of Islamic currents, particularly the Ennahda movement and the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS) branch in Tunisia.
Moussi posted on her Facebook page: “This is their true face…violence…insulting women…defaming chaste women…hegemony…violations “
Judge and activist Kalthoum Kano, a candidate of the 2019 presidential election has called for Samara’s arrest.
Representative Samia Abbou of the Democratic Bloc said: “Parliamentary immunity does not put the MP above the law.”
In December last year, a fierce brawl ensued inside the parliament’s building that shocked the entire country, prompting the citizens to launch an online campaign calling on President Kais Saied to dissolve the parliament and end what many referred to as an “unprecedented disgrace.”
Violence broke out when members of the far-right Al Karama Coalition reportedly assaulted deputies from the Democratic Bloc before a session examining the 2021 finance bill in the presence of Finance Minister Ali Kooli. Many parliamentarians including Democratic Current MP Anouar Bachahed sustained head injuries.