Tunisia: March Against Terrorism, Without the Popular Front.
“Tunisia anti-terror march kicks off World Social Forum. Activists from around the globe honour victims of museum attack last week that left 21 people, mostly tourists, dead.”
Sunday: A demonstration against terrorism is being organised after the bloody attack at the Bardo Museum. Tens of thousands of people and foreign dignitaries, including French President Francois Hollande, are expected to participate.
Adapted from Libération.
People and organisations will gather from about 11:00 local time (1000 GMT) in Bab Saadoun. They will march to the front of the museum. This building, which houses an outstanding collection of mosaics, was the target of the March 18 attack that killed 22 people – 21 tourists and a policeman.
Prominent personalities, political figures and overseas guests will assemble at around 12:00 (11:00 GMT) with Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi over a hundred metres along the outside of the museum prior to inaugurating a monument to the memory of the victims.
“We must now show our patriotism” said Minister of Tourism Salma Elloumi Rekik on national television. The attack was “a heavy blow (…) but this time did not kill us, he made us stronger,” she assured.
President Caid Essebsi called Wednesday on his countrymen to massively participate in the march “to express the strength of Tunisia” and “send a message abroad that Tunisia continues its fight against terrorism.”
Tunisia, the pioneer of the “Arab Spring”, despite its internal turmoil has completed its transition to democracy with elections in late 2014. But its stability could be threatened by the rise of Jihadist threat as well as the persistence of the economic and social problems that were the root of the 2011 revolution.
French President François Hollande will be present on the day that France holds the second round of the departmental (regional) elections. Polish and Palestinian presidents Bronislaw Komorowski and Mahmoud Abbas will take part in the march, as will Italian and Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal and Matteo Renzi and the Spanish and Dutch Ministers of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Garcia-Margallo and Bert Koenders.
“From now on, everyone reacts after each terrorist attack as if the attack was carried out in their own country. This is new and it’s important, “said President Caid Essebsi to the French daily Ouest-France.
This march is reminiscent of the one organised in January by President Hollande after the attacks in Paris against the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, a policewoman and a kosher supermarket.
The Islamist Ennahda party, the second political force in the country in the present coalition government, has called on supporters to participate in the march “to express the unity of Tunisians face this danger and their determination to defend their homeland (… ) preserve their freedom. “
The powerful trade union federation, the UGTT has also invited its members to attend “en masse”.
But the Popular Front ( Front populaire) the left coalition and main opposition party, announced that he would not participate. It accused ‘certain participants’ in the march of “hypocrisy” – a clear reference to Ennahda.
The spokesman of the Front, Hamma Hammami, said that the demonstration was “a way to cover up the issue of the responsibility (…) for the spread of terrorism.”
Many leftist policies accuse the Islamist party of having shown excessive tolerance towards the growing Jihadist groups when in power (late 2011-early 2014). They charge it with responsibility for, or complicity, in the murders in 2013 of two members of the Popular Front, Chokri Belaid Mohamed Brahmi.
Faced with these divisions, the daily La Presse spoke of “an absurd battle”, saying that “the world (…) expects that proves us to show that we deserve their backing, and the wave of solidarity that this event will demonstrate throughout today. “
The attack of March 18 was claimed by the Islamic State Group (EI). But the Tunisian Interior Ministry said the attack was led by a leader of the Falange Okba Ibn Nafaa, a group affiliated with Al Qaeda chased out by the army more than two years ago from in the mountains bordering Algeria.
The Bardo Museum, is preparing to resume normal activity. On Friday, it opened its doors to school pupils, students and members of delegations. It intends to open its doors to the public on Monday.
More on the Front Populaire’s position:
The Popular Front leader Mohamed Jmour said his party refuses to participate in the walk on Sunday, if the parties involved in terrorism are involved.
He added in a statement Friday that components of the old troika (previous government) refuse to this day to take responsibility for what has happened in Tunisia.
Mohamed Jmour also expressed also his refusal to participate in an event side by side with French leaders who are still not apologised, according to his statements, to the Tunisians for all the harm done to them during the period of the protectorate.