Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Martyr's Day in Tunis

Today is Martyr’s Day in Tunisia, a holiday to commemorate the fallen in the fight against French colonialism. The streets near my house were empty from rush hour traffic, but downtown on Habib Bourghiba street, there was lots of action. The road was blocked off from traffic on both sides, and people eventually filled the streets with colorful signs, chanting slogans, etc. The police were ready for anything. I saw lots of them milling around, and I saw some rows of riot police with shields, batons, and tear gas guns waiting at the ready. Fortunately, they were not needed. From our vantage point of the outdoor café next to the Internationale Hotel (directly across from the National Theatre) we could see all the action.
Group chanting that the poor were "tricked"

Nida Tounes supporters chanting "The people want a renewed revolution" (possibly referring to their opposition to a controversial draft law to ban members of Ben Ali's regime from politics).

Socialists (I think)
Nobody told me who this is, but based on the newspaper article I read, it is probably the families of the martyrs.

The Nahda party and its allies set up camp in front of the municipal theatre. 

The leftists would march behind them on the other side of the street and occasionally stop to taunt the Nahda supporters. They were not separated by anything. I was worried that some clashes would break out, but fortunately the groups only taunted and nothing got bigger than that happened. Apparently last year there was some violence at Martyr’s Day activities, though it doesn’t sound like it was conflict between camps, but instead conflict between some protesters and the police.


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