Earlier this week, on June 11 and 12, 65 police officers were wounded and 162 people were arrested in Salafist rioting across Tunisia over allegedly blasphemous art works on show in the town of La Marsa.
Further civil unrest by Salafis against detentions and injuries of Salafis during the rioting is likely in the coming weeks, most probably in front of court houses, police stations and alleged 'un-Islamic' venues such as bars in Jendouba, Sejnane, Sfax, Sousse, Tunis and other towns. Unrest is likely to entail security forces using tear gas against Salafis throwing stones or wielding clubs and knives. Furthermore, likely counter-demonstrations by secularists carry a high risk of leading to street-fighting between Salafis and protesters.
The Revolutionary Students' Movement (MRE), which initially called for a demonstration on June 16, has announced that it will postpone protests over concerns for the safety of its members. The demonstration is now likely to go ahead on June 23.
Anti-government protests have been met with increasing violence over the past few months. Armed, plain-clothes pro-government militias of so-called 'concerned citizens' have attacked youth leaders with iron bars and mace spray to dissuade them from protesting, with police standing by. So far, the youth protests have been explicitly non-violent, but the youth movement's intention to increase readiness for self-defence raises the potential of escalation. The planned demonstration likely to go ahead on 23 June brings an increased risk of violent confrontations between demonstrators and government supporters in Luanda, Benguela and Huambo.
Former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq and the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi are scheduled to compete in presidential elections on June 16 and 17.
If Shafiq is elected, large-scale protests over allegations of fraud would be likely in central squares and roads in Cairo, Alexandria, Port Said, Suez and other towns. Street-fighting between security forces and protesters, and attacks by demonstrators on government buildings such as police stations, will also be likely. A mass shooting of protesters would severely increase the likelihood of protests disrupting airports, railways and ports. Such an incident would also raise the likelihood of the Muslim Brotherhood joining protests, further increasing unrest.
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