So, I’ve noticed that whenever I make an optimistic blog post, things get worse here. Hopefully it’s not my fault. Friday 100,000 people marched through downtown Tunis in the largest demonstration yet against the transitional government. Another rally on Saturday turned violent, with three deaths, dozens of wounded, and a hundred arrests. Our taxi driver this morning told us that the violence had been caused by Ben Ali supporters who had infiltrated the crowd and incited security forces. I wonder . . .
The reason we were in a taxi in the first place was our weekly pilgrimage to visit friends in Tunis. Most of them work at the American embassy, and we meet in Carthage, which as well as being the ancient ruined seat of the Carthaginians is now a nice northern suburb of Tunis. Our friends live just up the street from the Presidential Palace. Today, the usual tank or two guarding the area had burgeoned into three tanks and military vehicles on each side of the road, as well as numerous soldiers and police and some serious barbed-wire barricades.
Our taxi drivers both on the way there and the way back took wide detours around the city center, although the farthest you can get from Avenue Bourguiba, which is always the center of protests, is a couple of blocks. When we passed it, nothing was happening, but evidently tear gas and warning shots broke up another rally today.
We were more than a little unnerved, and given the same set of circumstances next week, we will stay home in peaceful Hammamet. However, at least one of us was enjoying the situation. On the way home, Dominique was snacking, and announced that he would eat a raisin for every police or military person he saw out the window. They all waved back and smiled at him. His day was made.