28 March 2012

Tunisia: Protests Banned On Avenue Bourguiba, Theatre of Tunisia's Revolution

Photo: Bellyglad/Flickr
Protesters at an Occupy protest in Tunisia.

The Tunisian Ministry of the Interior announced today on its official Facebook page that protests would henceforth be banned on Avenue Habib Bourguiba.

Avenue Habib Bourguiba is one of the best known thoroughfares in the country and is often described as the Tunisian Champs Elysées. It is particularly symbolic for many Tunisians because it was the site of many of the critical protests that led to the overthrow of the former president Zine El Abddine Ben Ali during the January 2011 Tunisian Revolution.

A number of important buildings are located on the Avenue, including the French Embassy, the Municipal Theatre as well as the once feared Ministry of Interior headquarters.

The proclamation from the Ministry of the interior bans "all demonstrations, marches and any other form of collective expression on Avenue Bourguiba, Tunis" and is to take effect immediately.

The communiqué states the decision to ban protests was made after complaints from a number of businesses and organizations on the thoroughfare, as well as from private citizens over "violations made during some demonstrations.

The banning of protests on the Avenue Bourguiba comes only days after a large demonstration by Salafists on Sunday. That protest ended in violence when a number of Salafists descended the avenue and attacked a group of dramatists staging an unrelated event in front of the Municipal Theater. On the Ministry of Interior's Facebook page, the Ministry denied violence occurred and claimed that all dramatists were protected by police and returned home safely.

Protesting in most other parts of Tunis is still allowed, provided organizers fulfill a set of requirements set out by the ministry. These include giving 72 hours notice, identifying the precise location and route of any march as well as providing adequate security to ensure public safety.

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