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Chronicle of the Middle East and North Africa

Tunisia: Protesting While Having Power in Hands

Supporters of the Islamist Ennahdha party
Supporters of the Islamist Ennahdha party wave flags during a demonstration in support of the Tunisian government on February 27, 2021 in the capital Tunis. FETHI BELAID / AFP

Hakim Marzouki

A couple of weeks ago, supporters of the Islamic Ennahda Movement in Tunisia occupied Mohammed V Street in a march labeled as Protest. Protest against What? I do not know as the people of Levant say. Everyone is protesting against everyone in our country as if they were frogs in a putrid pond.

All of those people came individually and collectively from everywhere to send a letter that does not bear any postal stamp. This letter delivers more than political symbolism, as the demonstration started from the Montplaisir where the headquarters of Ennahda is located. The demonstrators turned their backs to Khaireddine Pacha Avenue as if they do that to the Pacha, who drafted the first constitution in Arab and African countries in 1961. The demonstration went down the street of the great Moroccan national king Mohamed V which is perpendicular to Habib Bourguiba Avenue. And as you know, everybody knows Habib Bourguiba and what he symbolizes in Tunisia.

The demonstrators gathered in the “human rights” square, holding “humanism” slogans. They blocked roads leading towards pharmacies, hospitals, cafes, shops, restaurants, and bars on a “Tunisian Saturday” full of those seeking comfort, calm, and tranquility in these gloomy days.

This march is a show of strength, but to whom? Was that for the workers in cafes, restaurants, and shops who yawn in front of each other and flies? Was that to the police and national security personnel exhausted during preparing in cities to confront terrorism residing in the distant mountains? Was that a show of strength to the people of this country who got bored, over and over again?

Some hired souls sold their consciences for a few dinars and went out crying out against anything. In their raging crowds, you even see the poor, the anarchists, and nihilists.

It is not a matter of a partisan alignment with one party against another. Instead, it is a cry of anger in the face of absurdity. What do they want? It only makes matters worse!

Just leave us as we are – and as we were. Allow us to have crowded mosques, crowded bars, and crowded theaters. Give us the chance to have heads full of all sorts of ideas, except blocking public roads.

Should the country be torn between three palaces built by the Beys of Tunisia’s kings in the bygone eras? Do we have to be torn out between the Bardo Palace, where the Ghannouchi Parliament is, the Kasbah Palace, where the Mechichi government is, and the Carthage Palace, where the President Said is?

We – O Three Musketeers – only want paved roads towards our homes and schools of our children. We need passages to other places where may waste our lives. We do not ask to change our fate. What we only ask for is mercy while having this fate.

Take our share of our blood and go. Protest, but not among us, for I have on this earth what deserves to make me write a column without anger. I want to walk on foot on Mohamed V Street, reach Bourguiba Street, meet friends, laugh or cry a little, and return home with joy, happiness, and distress.

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Mattia Yaghmai
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