I’m back in Tunis! Just in time. There were new calls for revival of Tunisia’s revolution — similar to the calls made in Cairo (Egypt makes the news much more than Tunisia for some reason). Both kicked out their dictator’s relatively quickly, and since then, both movements are not happy that genuine change is taking so long. But unlike Egypt where protesters are able to amass in Tahrir on what seems like a nearly constant basis, in Tunis that’s a difficult and dangerous proposition (that’s not to say that amassing in Tahrir is safe &/or easy).
Kasbah 3 took place across Tunisia last Friday (July 15), even though main squares, the Kasbah, government buildings & nearly every grassy knoll where more than 2 people could convene have long been surrounded by police vans, tanks and mountains of razor wire. Still protesters braved it. At 1:30 — the time that Cairo’s Tahrir square begins to get going — protesters in Tunis’ Kasbah had to flee from rubber bullets and tear gas. It seems the police have zero tolerance of protest here.
Many protesters ran for cover in the tiny alleys of the medina (souk/bazaar). But unlike wide open Tahrir square, it’s impossible to see what is going on in medina… it was only possible to hear distant shouting & feel the effects of residual tear gas. While there I literally stumbled onto a protester from Sidi Bouzid, who couldn’t open his eyes after being tear gassed. I poured coca-cola over his eyes, just like my friends in Cairo did for me 2 weeks earlier. Afterwards, my new friend from Sidi Bouzid and I spent a better part of the afternoon smoking shisha in a cave like place in the middle of the medina, where he told me tales and showed me photos of his hometown during the beginnings of the 1st Arab revolution.
Since then I’ve been trying my best to get to Misrata, Libya. I was supposed to be on a boat from Sfax, Tunisia to Misrata Thursday morning, but my place of the boat was sabotaged by concerned over-protective Misratee friends (long story 4 another blog post soon). The consolation was being able to attend a demonstration in Tunis on Thursday (July 21). The march was called for by over 10+ of Tunisia’s 90+ new political parties that have popped up since the RCD was kicked out. Because of what happened a few days earlier (the Kasbah, as just described), I thought Thursday’s event would also turn violent. But it didn’t. The exception, not the rule.