Lina Ben Mhenni writes: Two days before Tunisia was due to celebrate its independence day, a horrible terrorist attack has shaken the country. The barbaric, bloody assault on the Bardo museum near the parliament, that claimed the lives of 19 people, seems to open a new chapter for terrorist operations in my country. It also looks set to be the worst for foreigners in Tunisia since the attack on Djerba’s synagogue in 2002.
The symbolism of such an attack occurring in Tunisia – the birthplace of the so-called Arab spring – is significant. It was here that the self-immolation of Mohammed Bouazizi in December 2010 spawned a series of street demonstrations that culminated in the ousting of longtime president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. Tunisia’s reputation as the Arab spring’s “model pupil” may be questionable given that the country contributes the highest number of jihadis to countries such as Syria.
Nevertheless, it is a fact that while chaos is reigning in other countries in the Middle East, Tunisia has succeeded in ensuring a relative stability despite two political assassinations and some terrorist attacks targeting members of the security and military forces in remote areas such as Mount Chaambi. This attack occurred a few months after successful democratic and transparent elections in the country. Furthermore it happened while MPs were discussing an anti-terrorist law not far away from the museum where everything occurred. The two buildings lie within the same fence. [Continue reading…]