Tunisia Security Updates

Rumor Control

If we define the term rumor as “an unverified account or explanation of events circulating from person to person and pertaining to an object, event, or issue in public concern”, then we can see that during times of great change; rumors are very practical.  Having the advantage of being both a “local” and an expat allows me to have a good pulse on what’s happening on the streets.

Personally, I like to divide rumors into (3) categories:  Confirmed, Unverifiable, and Off the Wall.  Confirmed rumors are verifiable through  either a legitimate news or human source.  Unverifiable rumors simply lack an “official source” but should not be disregarded as a “simple rumor”.  Finally, there is the “Off the Wall” category which pertain to rumors that are not only unverifiable but also most likely to be untrue.

Confirmed Rumors

Rumor:  “In recent days Tunisian authorities have captured over 100 snipers…”

Confirmed:  “Tunisia’s courts are handling nearly 200 cases of killings by snipers committed during the uprising that toppled the president on January 14, the official TAP agency reported Thursday.” (Source:  Middle East Online)

Rumor:  “Tunisians are now allowed to veil and display beards on National IDs.”

Confirmed:  “Tunisia’s transitional government announced Friday that it will amend some articles to allow photographs of veil-wearing Tunisian women in the country’s identification cards, in respect for individualistic freedoms. (Source:  Al Arabiya News Channel)

Rumor:  “Tunisian Election set for second week of July.”

Confirmed:  “The body responsible for preparing crucial elections in Tunisia in July has approved the creation of an electoral commission…The election of a constituent assembly is scheduled for July 24.” (Source:  Middle East Online)

Unsubstantiated

Rumor:  “With religious fundamentalism on the rise…Tunisia will become an Islamic State.”

On the Record: In Tunisia, the main Islamist group is al-Nahda.  Hamadi Jebali, spokesperson of the Nahda movement has gone on the record to say:  “We are for a civil, free society where liberties are guaranteed for all. We are for pluralism, the respect of human rights and the respect of the people’s will”

That being said the fact that “analysts have said al-Nahda could once again rise as a major political force”  and an “Islamist-backed coalition won 17 per cent of the vote in 1989 elections”, its safe to say that they will have an important say in the next government.

Off the Wall

Since Off the Wall rumors have little value from an intelligence gathering perspective, I will not post any of the many ludicrous rumors that are in circulation.  I would only advise people to make sure they are able to verify information before they pass it on as fact. 

Share good information…

During a crisis situation rumors are inevitable and while there is often a lot “Off the Wall” information in circulation, “the rumor mill can actually serve a valuable purpose to companies, organizations, and individuals.” (Darby,2009).

With the lack of local news especially in the La Marsa and Carthage area, we need to handle information with the same care and approach similar to  journalist.   A good journalist makes sure that newsworthy information and its subsequent dissemination to the public pass the test of truthfulness, accuracy, and objectivity.  Lastly, a good journalist knows that he or she is responsible for the information they pass on.

Rumors are inevitable, but we need to make sure that the information we pass on remains relevant, practical, and informative. 

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