Tunisia protest: in pictures

The Tunisian president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, has fled to Saudi Arabia after days of mass protest

Above, a protester holds a placard demanding the resignation of Ben Ali at a protest outside the interior ministry in Tunis on 14 January. Ben Ali, 74, has been president since 1987. He has now fled the country.

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Above, protesters take part in a rally to celebrate his departure. This followed an extraordinary day that brought the declaration of a state of emergency and the evacuation of British tourists and visitors of other nationalities. The moves followed weeks of mass protest and violent clashes.

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Fires left by demonstrators burn in Tunis. Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi announced that he would act as interim president, vowing to restore stability for Tunisia's 10.5 million citizens.

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The note reads "Ben Ali out". A state of emergency and a 12-hour curfew failed to restore calm. Protests are ongoing amid the confusion about what will happen next and concerns that Ben Ali might be able to return before elections are held.

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A protester throws rocks at the police. The streets of Tunis are reportedly now largely deserted.

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Police fire tear gas to disperse crowds unmoved by the president's concession and demanding his immediate resignation. Since the unrest started, scores of demonstrators have been killed by police firing live ammunition into crowds.

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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There's something missing from our counter-terrorism debate

The policy reckoning that occured after the 2005 terrorist attacks did not happen after the one in 2016. 

“Once the rockets are up, who cares where they come down? That's not my department, says Wernher von Braun.” That satirical lyric about Nazi rocket scientists has come to mind more than few times watching various tech giants give testimony in front of the Home Affairs Select Committee, one of the underreported sub-plots of life at Westminster.

During their ongoing inquiry into hate crime in the United Kingdom, committee chair Yvette Cooper has found a staggering amount of hate speech being circulated freely on the largest and most profitable social media platform. Seperately, an ongoing investigation by the Times has uncovered how advertising revenue from Google and YouTube makes its way straight into the coffers of extremist groups, ranging from Islamist extremists to white supremacists and anti-Semites.

One of the many remarkable aspects of the inquiry has been the von Braunesque reaction by the movers and shakers at these tech companies. Once the ad revenue is handed out, who cares what it pays for? That’s not my department is the overwhelming message of much of the testimony.

The problem gains an added urgency now that the perpetrator of the Westminster attacks has been named as Khalid Masood, a British-born 52-year-old with a string of petty convictions across two decades from 1982 to 2002. He is of the same generation and profile as Thomas Mair, the white supremacist behind the last act of domestic terrorism on British shores, though Mair’s online radicalisation occurred on far-right websites, while Masood instead mimicked the methods of Isis attacks on the continent.  Despite that, both fitted many of the classic profiles of a “lone wolf” attack, although my colleague Amelia explains well why that term is increasingly outmoded.

One thing that some civil servants have observed is that it is relatively easy to get MPs to understand anti-terror measures based around either a form of electronic communication they use themselves – like text messaging or email, for instance – or a physical place which they might have in their own constituencies. But legislation has been sluggish in getting to grips with radicalisation online and slow at cutting off funding sources.

As I’ve written before, though there  are important differences between these two ideologies, the radicalisation journey is similar and tends to have the same staging posts: petty criminality, a drift from the fringes of respectable Internet sub-cultures to extremist websites, and finally violence.  We don’t yet know how closely Masood’s journey follows that pattern – but what is clear is that the policy rethink about British counter-terror after the July bombings in 2005 has yet to have an equivalent echo online. The success of that approach is shown in that these attacks are largely thwarted in the United Kingdom. But what needs to happen is a realisation that what happens when the rockets come down is very much the department of the world’s communication companies. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.