Anti-capitalist groups gather in Tunis for global forum

Delegates convene for World Social Forum to discuss alternative system to globalisation, amid shadow of museum attack.

World Social Forum, in Tunis, from 2013.
The World Social Forum will open on Tuesday with a solidarity march for the victims of the Bardo museum attack [File: AP]

Tunis, Tunisia – Critics of globalisation are gathering for the 13th edition of the World Social Forum (WSF), the annual anti-capitalist event which begins in Tunis on Tuesday, amid tight security after last week’s Bardo museum attack that left 21 people, mostly foreign tourists, dead.

At least 70,000 delegates, representing more than 4,000 mass-based movements and organisations from 128 countries, are due to participate in the five-day event, which serves as a counterweight to the Davos World Economic Forum, where top political leaders and business elites meet to discuss economic issues.

This year will mark the second time that Tunisia will organise the event. The only other country to have hosted the event twice is Brazil, the founding state of the WSF in 2001.

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“One of the reasons why the WSF will be held in Tunisia for the second time is that there is an international acknowledgment of the role of the civil society, youth movements and unions in securing the democratic transition in Tunisia,” Romdhane Ben Amor, an organising committee coordinator told Al Jazeera.

“Tunisia is an exception in a region that was engulfed by violence and bloodshed.

“It is the first Arab democracy where social movements played a major role.”

Alternative platform

The event brings together a varied mosaic of youth and labour unions, environmental and peace associations, as well as various communities and activists from across the globe.

The gathering then gives these groups a crucial space to develop new ideas to fight for a fairer world, and to put forward alternative ideas for a better society based on the principles of equality, reciprocity and solidarity.

More 1,000 workshops will be featured during the forum, discussing a number of issues such as the fight against hunger, immigrant rights, labour rights in the global economy, gender equality and climate change.

More than 200 cultural activities will also be displayed in Tunis as part of the event, including exhibitions, an alternative media fair, film screenings, street performances and music concerts.

The WSF organising committee has said that there will be no changes to the forum’s activities despite last week’s attack in Tunis, pointing out that all delegations had confirmed participation.

The forum will open on Tuesday with a solidarity march for the victims of the Bardo museum attack, the committee said in a statement.

The march will start at 4pm local time from Bab Saadoun square and walk to the museum, under the motto “People of the World against Terrorism.”

Security has been tightened with police filling the streets of the capital as the country strives to prevent any further attacks.

The museum attack was the worst in the north African country since an al-Qaeda fighter detonated a truck bomb in front of a historic synagogue on the island of Djerba in 2002, killing 21, mostly German tourists.

The attack is also a strong blow to Tunisia’s economy, which relies heavily on tourism revenues.

Source: Al Jazeera