In the last year or so…we’ve witnessed a wide variety of protests. From municipality workers to university students, the unemployed to police officers, secularist and Islamists…the range of demonstrations have been extensive & colorful.
On Monday, April 9th, a protest for the right to protest took place in downtown Tunis and unfortunately the event looked too similar to the revolution days. In fact, Monday’s protest marks a new chapter in the already heated debate between so-called secularists & Islamists. According to one account: “the clashes appeared to mark a new level of animosity between the government and the secular left.”
To ban or not to ban?
When one looks at the big picture, it’s easy to see the dilemma the current government has regarding the decision of whether to ban protests on Avenue Habib Bourguiba. On the one hand they have a troubled economy and a mountain of complaints coming from commercial vendors demanding that the cycle of protests be put to an end. On the other hand there’s the issue of the symbolic significance of Avenue Habib Bourguiba and the right the Tunisian people have to peacefully demonstrate.
The Ministry of Interior made the decision to ban protests and on Monday we saw first hand that a lot of people are not in favor of this law.
After Action Summary
Monday’s protest made several things clear that should be noted:
- Tunisian security forces will react in a strong manner to enforce this ban.
- We can safely assume that this issue will not go away and that it will remain a central point of dispute between “secularist” and the current government.
- We are likely to see similar protests & reactions on Avenue Habib Borguiba in the near future or during the next significant date.
Expats on the Watch
During these beautiful Spring days, Expats have a lot to be excited for and naturally they are exploring & enjoying Tunisia more than ever, however Monday’s protest is a prime example of the usefulness of situational awareness. I received a couple of phone calls from Expats that found themselves “caught in the madness”.
As Expats it is important to stay updated with the current security situation and we should continue to strengthen our channels of communication.
Keep the feedback coming…