I’ve been hearing a lot nervous chatter about the “salafists” so I wanted to post something to Empower Expats. The crime triangle teaches us that in order for a crime to take place, three factors have to get into perfect alignment: Desire on the part of the criminal, Ability of the criminal, and the Opportunity presented by the would be victim. Although the recent salafists activities do not fall under the crime model, we can use proven situational awareness strategies to feel empowered rather than nervous while we are out enjoying beautiful Tunisia.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the UK has recently updated their website with important information related to the recent salafists activities. I have underlined several key words and phrases…as it is always important to read between the lines…
“There have also been some reports of fringe groups seeking to impose their interpretation of Islamic dress/ behaviour upon others through violence against individuals. While the primary target of these groups has been Tunisian women and businesses serving and selling alcohol (outside of the main tourist areas) this behaviour could affect foreigners. These attacks have been very rare, but visitors should be aware of the potential for such acts in tourist areas, on beaches and in restaurants and cafes especially during religious holidays. Such attacks are illegal and the Tunisian government has stated that it will seek to prevent any such violence.”
First we should note that most of the “salafists incidents” have taken place either on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. Next, let’s remember that most have taken place outside tourist and (what we like to call) non-Expat areas like Sejene & Jendouba.
Now that we have that established let’s put the Safety-Security Update in perspective. These so called “fringe groups” are mostly concerned with everyday Tunisian issues and they have not (until now) shown any interest in targeting foreigners. As for “businesses serving and selling alcohol”, once again the targets have been”local style bars and centers of alcohol distribution”.
The Tunisian Salafists movement does not operate like a gang or mob. If you’ve ever seen a video of one of their public meetings you will quickly learn that they are well organized and politically savvy. Their actions are calculated and planned out which makes them easier to predict and avoid.
You don’t need to have a military background to exercise good situational awareness. Effective situational awareness skills are natural and part of living a full Expat life. Remember to find out more about the places you are going to visit (pre-plan). Ask around and be sure to pass on good information so that our “Expat Info Network” stays current. Finally trust your instincts, if something is telling you not to go, you’re probably should avoid going.