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Salafist attacks on police raise fears in Tunisia

By Houda Trabelsi for Magharebia in Tunis – 31/10/12

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Deadly clashes with salafists outside Tunis last night prompted authorities to boost security in the capital, the Tunisian Interior Ministry said on Wednesday (October 31st).

"There has been a reinforcement of security, of the national guard, of the army to prevent any retaliation" by armed salafists, AFP quoted interior ministry spokesperson Khaled Tarrouche as saying.

Security forces would use "all the tools allowed by law" in the event of any further violence, he warned, suggesting that they could fire live rounds if confronted.

At least one salafist was killed in the fighting Tuesday night. The clash erupted when dozens of salafists, armed with swords and knives, stormed two police stations in the Tunis suburbs of Douar Hicher and Khalid Ibn Walid. Three National Guard officers were also reportedly wounded.

The outbreak of violence follows the arrest of a 22-year-old salafist for allegedly attacking a police commander at the week-end. The suspect was captured in Jendouba while attempting to flee to Algeria, Tunisie Numerique reported. He had shaved his head and beard and was armed with tear gas and a knife.

Wissem Ben Slimane, the security chief in Manouba, suffered a knife attack on Saturday while attempting to break up clashes between radical Islamists and alcohol sellers in Douar Hicher. He later underwent emergency surgery at the National Institute of Neurology.

Hichem Ben Slimane, the victim's brother, told reporters that the assault "was perpetrated by a salafist called 'Saddam' who was masked".

"He hit my brother on the head when he was performing his work with a group of agents to regulate a security incident in the region involving clashes between wholesalers of wine and a group of salafists," he added.

The National Union for Security Forces called on its members to wear a red badge for three days to condemn the violence sustained by Ben Slimane.

In a statement on Sunday, the syndicate expressed "indignation due to the multiple attacks sustained by security forces", adding that "the absence of interest on the part of supervisory authorities in responding to requests and numerous warnings has led to the continuation of systematic acts of violence towards security forces".

The statement also called on the interior ministry and the Constituent Assembly to develop needed legislation aimed at protecting security agents when performing their duties.

For its part, the interior ministry confirmed in a statement issued on Monday that it intended "to keep track of all the abuses perpetrated by groups that want to replace the state and impose their own laws."

"No one is immune before the law, and the Ministry of Interior will spare no effort to pursue those who attack officers and agents of national security and bring them to justice," the statement stressed.

Although attacks attributed to salafists are not new to Tunisians, this particular incident left a state of uncertainty and panic among citizens.

Mostapha Ouji, 33-years-old, said, "This incident is serious and if the supervisory ministry stays quiet, then violence against security agents will worsen. Thus citizen safety will be threatened."

"I am surprised that the security agents were not authorised to use their weapons in such circumstances, to defend themselves and thus catch the criminals," Ouji added.

"When I heard about the incident, I feared for the future of Tunisia," commented Dorra Mouaoui, 43. "The most dangerous scenario that could happen is to allow these salafists to impose their system by force."

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  1. Anonymous thumb

    mersni 2012-11-3

    The Tunisians insist and persist in having the profession of the police disappear. This profession costs the taxpayer dearly. It is a profession originally created by the Pharoah and taken up by the English during the conquest of the world with the sole aim of monitoring the population and creating a sad social climate of eternal fear. This is what happened in Tunisia recently, and the exact definition of this profession is a “profession of mentally ill rapists” made up of individuals who did not succeed in their education and threw themselves into a profession where anything goes—rape, scamming, crime, trafficking of all sorts and all the way to a retirement with a budget that should be spent on educating young people and forming a responsible people. We saw the proof during the first days of the revolution. The curse on the people found its source in the police. This government should make a decree that allows for the end of this profession in the country and proposes an army for those who want to protect the country. Send the rest to their full or early retirement and allow the future generations a life of being responsible for their country.


  2. Anonymous thumb

    خالد 2012-11-2

    If the Tunisian security was one day at the service of Ben Ali, today it has to be at the service of this great people. In order to achieve this noble goal, there should be mainly a restoration of the prestige of this essential device for the sovereignty of the state, give it a big load of trust and pump new blood in its veins. Yes, it is time to stand up side by side and grasp the most trustworthy handhold with no break in it, that is: consensus and nothing but consensus. This consensus can be realized only through constructive dialogue and good word. There is no way at all for violence, hostility and retaliation. My dear brothers, this is my vision of things and you have all consideration. See you soon.


  3. Anonymous thumb

    polyglot 2012-10-31

    Ennahda is in a big quandary: whom does it satisfy—society or the salafists? Indeed, the party would have loved to continue with its blurring and mixing up of things because it is clear that it is closer to the salafists than the people, but it is welcomed everywhere. Soon, it will die because even with a different tie, it is the same fabric.