The police station in Tunis' La Marsa neighbourhood, after being attacked by rioters.
Following clashes between rioters and security forces in Tunis over the past two nights, which have resulted in at least one death, residents of the capital are wondering who is truly behind this violence. While many suspect this is the work of Salafi Islamists, who had already attacked an art gallery on Sunday, others say they saw only young troublemakers in the streets.
On Monday night, rioters attacked government buildings, including a courthouse and several police stations. The riots broke out simultaneously in both poorer neighbourhoods and rich ones like the suburb of La Marsa, where the gallery attacked by Salafis is located. Abdellia palace was hosting an exhibition called “The Art Spring”, which included works that the extremists viewed as an insult to Islam
. The exhibit included a painting of a nude woman and another showing the word “Allah” spelled with a string of ants.
Though the authorities declared a curfew, rioting continued on Tuesday night in the neighbourhood of Intilaka. The Interior Ministry’s spokesman, Khaled Tarrouche, told the French news agency AFP that over 160 people have been arrested for participating in the riots, adding that the assailants were a “mixed group” that included “people from Salafist movements as well as troublemakers.” Many of those arrested, he said, had criminal records.
The inside of the police station in La Marsa neighbourhood, following the attack.