Our last post focused on the April 9th protest on Avenue Bourgiba and the negative actions that took place that day. We pointed out that the issue would remain a central point of dispute between “secularist” and the current government.
It’s interesting to note that not only has the current government reversed the ban but the Interior Minister stated that from now on “cameras will monitor future protests”. Emphasizing cameras instead of tear gas and batons may result in more peaceful protests and less bad public relations for the new government.
The reversal and recognition on the part of the government will definitely release some tension in the already stressful relationship between the Islamists led government and the secular opposition.
Will it be enough?
Regarding the actions that took place on April 9th, a prominent columnist has eloquently pointed out that the suppression is “only a new sign of the fundamental cracks affecting the relationship between the Ennahda movement and the Tunisian public.”
It will be interesting to see how these “cracks” play out from here till the next round of elections.
Contrary to what took place on April 9th, we have actually observed a very lay back attitude on the part of everyday Tunisian security forces. On a number of different occasions, regarding a number of issues from burglaries to civil disputes, they have been very hesitant to get involved.
On the one hand the demonstrators who marched on Avenue Habib Bourguiba faced “harsh suppression by the security services…were beaten and a number suffered serious injuries”, while on the other hand we had to wait over 20 minutes for the local police to respond to a serious civil dispute. Upon arrival they were very hesitant to even leave their patrol vehicle and instead of taking a proactive stance, they kept their distance and choose not to detain any of the participants.
While we welcome their new diplomacy and courtesy…the situation still remains very challenging.
As Expats we should remember that when it comes to our security & safety our best weapons are: situational awareness, pre-planning, and good old fashion common sense…and not local security forces.