Tunisia anti-terror march kicks off World Social Forum
Activists from around the globe honour victims of museum attack last week that left 21 people, mostly tourists, dead.
Tunis, Tunisia – The World Social Forum has kicked off in the Tunisian capital with a march in solidarity with the victims of last week’s Bardo museum attack that left 21 people, mostly foreign tourists, dead.
Tuesday’s march was marred by lower-than-expected turnout due to heavy rains but several hundred activists, NGO workers, and members of civil society organisations joined in to take a stand against terrorism and in support of peaceful co-existence.
The march proceeded as scheduled amid heavy security arrangements. Demonstrators set off from Bab Saadoun Square at 3pm local time and walked to the Bardo museum, under the motto “People of the World against Terrorism.”
Chanting, “Tunisia is free, terrorism out,” the participants carried anti-terrorism banners and decried the attack, which according to many of them sought to undermine the democratic and peaceful transition of Tunisia by creating a climate of fear among citizens.
“I wanted to attend the march despite knowing that the main slogan may increase risks,” Sofia Laine from the Youth Research Network, Finland, told Al Jazeera.
“By taking part in the march I showed that I won’t let politics of fear and threat win. We have to occupy public spaces and support freedom and peace globally and locally. We embodied a global movement in solidarity with Tunisian people against all forms of oppressions,” Laine added.
Last Wednesday, at least two Tunisian men opened fire on tourists as they got off buses at the Bardo. Security forces later shot dead the two attackers.
The museum held a ceremonial reopening on Tuesday, while the official reopening to the public was postponed to a later date.
Museum officials have said that no major archaeological treasures suffered damage and the museum needs only minimal repairs.
Tunisian officials announced that another march against terrorism will be staged in Tunis on March 29, which world leaders are invited to join.
The museum attack was the worst on 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.
At least 70,000 delegates representing more than 4,000 grassroots movements and organisations from 128 countries are participating in the five-day forum, which serves as an annual counterweight to the Davos World Economic Forum, where top political leaders and business elites meet to discuss economic issues.
The event aims to provide a space for a mosaic of youth and labour unions, environmental and peace associations, as well as various communities and activists from across the globe to develop and put forward alternative ideas for a fairer society based on the principles of equality, reciprocity and solidarity.
Over 1,000 workshops will be held during the event, 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 events will also take place in Tunis as part of the forum, including exhibitions, an alternative media fair, film screenings, street performances and concerts.