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

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    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.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora