Tunisia declared “safe” by President despite 5 fatalities reported outside synagogue, leaving citizens baffled and shaken!
The safety of Tunisian tourists was called into question on Wednesday, as President Kais Saied attempted to reassure the world following a violent massacre. Just prior, a Tunisian police officer had murdered five individuals outside of Africa’s oldest synagogue, sparking terror during an annual Jewish pilgrimage on the resort island of Djerba. The anxiety proved too much for Tunisian Association for Support of Minorities member Raoudha Seibi who said “I never thought I would experience such terror.” The attacker, who was shot by authorities, killed three police officers and two visitors, a French-Tunisian and an Israeli-Tunisian man, and injured six more police officers, two of whom later succumbed to their injuries.
The motives behind the violence are still unknown, leaving much cause for concern. Despite this, President Saied bravely condemned the attack and sought to reassure Tunisians that the country will remain safe and stable. The attack, he said, aimed to “disrupt its stability,” and to “sabotage the tourist season and attack the state.” The timing of the violent disruption was particularly unfortunate as nations worked to recover from the economic setbacks brought on by the pandemic. In addition, the attack took place on the annual Ghriba pilgrimage, which had not taken place for two years as a result of the pandemic.
The violence and fear invoked once again proves “evil and hatred are still there,” according to Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen. In 2002, the synagogue had already been the target of a truck bombing that claimed over 20 lives, and while investigations are ongoing, officials appear reticent to classify the shootings as terrorism. As if the financial and political turmoil were not enough, the country now must contend with a fresh wave of turmoil. With the incident taking place in a region heavily reliant on tourism, the concern is what impact will this have on the industry and the country as a whole.