Curfew Lifted in Tunisia As Violence Abates
Citing the improved security situation in the country, Tunisia’s Ministry of the Interior Saturday lifted the nighttime curfew imposed on Tuesday because of rioting. Few violent clashes have broken out in the last 48 hours, and groups like Ennahdha that had called for major protests on Friday largely respected the Interior Ministry’s ban on demonstrations. About 200 hotel workers and others in the tourism industry, however, held [French] a peaceful sit-in Saturday calling for better security to help reinvigorate an industry they say has been crippled by the violence.
Meanwhile, one of the artists involved in the art festival that some found insulting to Islam and that prompted the riots spoke out to Al Jazeera. Photographer Héla Ammar defended both the freedom of artists to create and the non-controversial meanings of the works on display. Ammar said the artists, many of whom have received death threats, have been the victims of a media campaign that used the artists as scapegoats for a much larger political battle. Ammar concluded saying “under Ben Ali, we suffered most of all from self-censorship… now, the censorship is based on religious and moral questions, which has made things even worse.”
Also, 46 members of the National Constituent Assembly released a statement objecting to the verdict in the Thala and Kasserine martyrs’ trial, which convicted Ben Ali to life in prison but acquitted several major former security officials. Claudio Cordone, program director at the International Center for Transitional Justice, however, commended the recent rulings and Tunisia’s dealings with Ben Ali-era figures in general. Cordone highlighted the government’s attempts at a national dialogue and said he hoped Tunisia will serve as a model for other Arab nations transitioning away from dictatorship.