people attend demonstrations on the seventh anniversary of the toppling of president zine el abidine ben ali, in tunis

Protesters in Tunisia mark 2011 uprising amid Covid-19 restrictions

The Tunisian people mark the 11th anniversary of the revolution that triggered the Arab Spring uprisings amid Covid-19 restrictions. Protestors scuffle with police in Tunisia’s capital on Friday.

On Wednesday, the government re-imposed a nationwide night curfew and announced a ban on public gatherings because of the rising number of Covid-19 cases. The government also requested the citizens to follow all the Covid-19 protocols such as wearing masks, social distancing, and ventilation of closed spaces. However, Tunisia’s main political parties decided to go ahead with protests marking the anniversary of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.

Politicians and activists said that the decision was politically motivated to prevent anti-government protests. Friday’s protest went against a government ban on all indoor or outdoor gatherings, which was announced to stop a COVID-19 wave.

Protests in Habib Bourguiba Avenue

The police officers on Friday prevented the protesters from gathering on Habib Bourguiba Avenue. The venue is the traditional focal point for protests. The Tunisian police used water cannons, sticks and tear gas to disperse the protestors. Several protestors were arrested, while some were injured.

Protestors chanted slogans like “down with the coup,” referring to Tunisian President Kais Saied‘s sacking of the government and freezing parliament last July. Opposition parties, including Ennahdha, were protesting against the suspension of parliament by President Kais Saied.

Saied’s subsequent decision of suspension of the parliament has sparked large demonstrations both for and against him. Some Tunisians welcomed his moves. But his opponents did not welcome his moves. Ennahdha supporters view Saied’s move as a power takeover.

According to Reuters, 1200 people had protested and said its forces had exercised restraint. The French newspaper Liberation said that its reporter was subjected to severe violence by police officers. They reportedly took the phone and press card of the reporters.