Women carry Tunisian blogger Lina Ben Mhenni’s coffin in last farewell at funeral procession

Women carry Tunisian blogger Lina Ben Mhenni’s coffin in last farewell at funeral procession
The Nobel Peace Prize nominee spent years chronicling the Tunisian uprising and holding authorities to account over human rights abuses.
3 min read
29 January, 2020
Lina was beloved by many around the world [Abdelakrim Benabdallah]
Hundreds of people showed up to mourn "hero" Tunisian blogger and activist Lina Ben Mhenni, who died last week following complications from a chronic illness at the age of 36.

Women who were close to the Nobel Peace Prize nominee carried her coffin along a procession of mourners bearing her photograph and bouquets of flowers in her hometown of Ezzahra in the south suburbs of Tunis.

In a post published on her official Facebook page, friend and fellow blogger Hana Trabelsi called on people to bring books to the cemetery during her funeral as a tribute to the late writer, who had chronicled the Tunisian uprising and was passionate about education.

Lina had been a fierce advocate of prison reform and education and she, along with father Sadok Ben Mhenni had dreamed of setting up libraries in Tunisia prisons.

"All those who love Lina are asked to bring books with them to her parental home and cemetery, and give them to me," wrote Trabelsi.

"No one can replace you dear Lina, but I promise you, with your father, our father, to continue the campaign to collect books for the benefit of prisons."

Lina was an activist [Getty]

"Thanks to you, 45,000 books have passed through the prison walls and through which prisoners have been able to breathe freedom," she continued in French.

"All these people and all marginalised people weep for you my dear friend. I promise to multiply this figure…"

A national funeral was organised on Tuesday afternoon. The funeral procession began at the parental home before journeying to Djellaz Cemetery.

People across the world have written emotional farewell messages online.

Sweden's ambassador for Tunisia tweeted: "I am deeply saddened to hear that our dear friend Lina Ben Mhenni has left us. As a Human Rights defender, she personified the revolution. The vibrant civil society of #Tunisia has lost one of its bravest freedom fighters. My deepest condolences to her family. RIP."

Women carry Lina's coffin through a crowd of mourners [Abdelakrim Benabdallah]

Another fan of Lina's work wrote: "Tunisia has lost one of its bravest and fiercest women who documented the revolution day by day and who never stopped campaigning for continued reform and democracy despire her illness. So saddened and heartbroken by the news of #LinaBenMhenni’s passing."

Lina was an English teacher at the University of Tunis, and her father Sadok Ben Mhenni was an activist who had been a political prisoner under Habib Bourguiba and one of the founders of the Tunisian branch of Amnesty International.

In her final blog post before her death, on Sunday morning, she criticised an argument between MPs in parliament.

Her blog, A "Tunisian Girl", painstakingly documented human rights abuses under Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and as a response it was banned in 2007.

When the Tunisian uprising gained ground in 2011 she began writing again, and at that time she was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. She went on to receive the Best Blog Award at the prestigious Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum in Germany.

"I had to ensure that the voices of these people and their families be heard so that they hadn't died in vain," she said at the time.

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