News / Middle East

    Tunisia Braces for Protests Over French Cartoons

    Outside view of the French embassy in Tunis, Tunisia, September 19, 2012.Outside view of the French embassy in Tunis, Tunisia, September 19, 2012.
    x
    Outside view of the French embassy in Tunis, Tunisia, September 19, 2012.
    Outside view of the French embassy in Tunis, Tunisia, September 19, 2012.
    Lisa Bryant
    A week after Muslims worldwide vented their anger at an anti-Islam film made in the United States, authorities in Tunisia are bracing for more unrest this Friday - this time because of French cartoons making fun of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.

    Right now it's a typical weekday afternoon in downtown Tunis. The main Habib Bourguiba Avenue is choked with traffic and pedestrians. One thing that is different, however, are the barbed wire and police flanking France's elegant embassy.

    The extra security comes ahead of Friday prayers - and a day after a French magazine published cartoons mocking the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.

    Tunisian authorities clearly don't want a repeat of last Friday, when violent demonstrations by Salafists outside the U.S. embassy here killed four Tunisians and injured dozens of others.  

    Anti-U.S. Protests Timeline:

    • September 11: Protesters attack U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt and U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three other Americas are killed
    • September 12: Anti-U.S. protests spread to several Arab countries.
    • September 13: Protesters storm U.S. embassy compound in Sana'a, Yemen
    • September 14: Protests spread further across Africa, Asia and the Middle East
    • September 15: US orders non-essential personnel and families of diplomats out of Tunisia and Sudan
    • September 16: A protester dies during a clash with police in Pakistan
    • September 17: A protester dies during a clash with police in Pakistan
    Pausing before the French embassy, Tunisian businessman Hamdi Ashouri criticizes the violence.

    But Ashouri said that Muslims respect other religions and they would never mock them. He said he will join any peaceful protests against the French cartoons on Friday.

    Like Ashouri, bank employee Jihen Saber is worried about more violence to come. She said there's no security in Tunisia, that it is still recovering from its 2011 revolution. That makes her scared.

    Last week's protests against the video, made by a private filmmaker in the U.S., were echoed across the Arab world. They are particularly striking in this North African country, though, where the regime of former president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali jailed Islamists.

    Today, Tunisia's ruling Islamist Ennahda party is trying to calm the situation - criticizing both the movie and the protesters.

    Ennahda leader Rachid Ghannouchi said he was shocked at the violence of last week's demonstrators who destroyed American embassy cars, set fire to an American school and attacked businesses. He said protesters have the right to express their views, but must do so peacefully.

    About 30,000 French nationals live in Tunisia. Ahead of Friday prayers, France has announced it will close its embassies and schools in some 20 countries, including Tunisia.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    September 21, 2012 1:34 PM
    These protests should continue on daily basis. The liberal president was removed with the support of the West to usher in the mad Arab Spring. We are getting what we want from the Arab Spring - extremism! The west have no excuse here. The west should understand that no matter how much you bath a pig and dress it in fine linen clothes, it must return to the sludge. You cannot bring uniform democracy to all countries of the world. Arab Spring was not because of length of tenure, Never! The longest serving potentates also practiced democracy being govt of the people by the people for the people. They practiced democratic principles. But what do we get from their successors of the Arab Spring? A unified force to fight western civilization. Whether you like it or not, all of them are behind Tehran's nuclear program. By the time it's been accomplished..., only God can predict what the next step will be.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.