‘Tunisia attack – sabotage of Arab Spring by supporters of medieval style rule’

People surround an ambulance carrying the bodies of the victims of an attack by gunmen on Tunisia's national museum in Tunis March 18, 2015. (Reuters / Zoubeir Souissi)
The model of democracy set up in Tunisia following the Arab Spring is now being attacked by those who still believe in mediaeval political systems, the bureau chief of the AlQuds Al-arabi newspaper, Abdelhamid Siyam told RT's In The Now.

RT:Could we have anticipated attacks like the one at the Bardo Museum happening in the capital Tunis?

Abdelhamid Siyam: I think we should because it hasn’t stopped. There were clashes between the Tunisian army [and islamists] in the Chaambi Mountains… and just a month ago on the border between Tunisia and Algeria. So they should have expected something to infiltrate to the urban centers.I think there was some lack of security and lack of decisiveness. I believe it was expected and the Tunisian authorities should have done much more before this happened.

RT:Tunisia is very small country, it has almost no money. What does this mean for the gains of terrorists and extremists in the region? They are literally spreading across the Middle East and North Africa.

AS: That’s true because they are in desperate situation. They have been targeted everywhere, they have been hated by the population everywhere. They are now in a very desperate situation so they will try to inflict as much damage as possible before their eminent demise. There is no popular environment to perceive, to take them, to embrace them especially in Tunisia, a country known for its open-mindedness, its links to the West, the highest education level in the whole Arab world. It is a leading example of transition to democracy. So they wanted to ruin that example because it inspired the whole Arab world in the early days of the Arab Spring.

Reuters / Stringer

RT:But ISIS is surely making gains and now it claims responsibility for this attack.

AS: Yeah, that is true. It depends how we measure the gains – if by killing innocent people… I think the whole Arab world and Muslim world are united in detesting these kind of acts. They think they will bring them closer to the international community to coordinate their efforts, to uproot this kind of terrorist movement.

RT:Is condemnation going to be enough? We are talking about territorial gains here.

AS: No, I’m not saying only condemnation is enough. [There should be] coordination, working with international community through the UN system, empowering the population to defend themselves as a kind of educational system. It should be some kind of coordination with all the Islamic moderate clergy to educate the public. That is a very small margin that doesn’t represent even 0.01 from the whole Muslim world. I think it’s time that the leadership - both religious andcivil- should stand together with educated public, empower them to defend themselves, to defend their society, to defend their institutions, economy and countries.

RT:What can Europe do? Mostly European citizens were killed in this museum attack.

AS: Europe also should lead by example because Muslims in their countries are marginalized and discriminated against; and Islamophobia is spreading out in Europe. So…even the Muslim communities in those countries are being left behind or marginalized or discriminated against. I think they should work on a model and spread that, and stretch their hand to the Arab countries to work together, to uproot this kind of movement both in the Arab countries and in Europe by the extreme right in many European countries as we have seen recently in the US and in France, and many other European countries.

READ MORE: ISIS claims responsibility for museum attack in Tunisia - reports

RT:How much does the Arab Spring have to do with what we are seeing in North Africa right now?

AS: I think it does. What does it mean, the Arab Spring? The Arab Spring is a popular movement ...that wanted to change the whole Arab world into more democratic, more transparent, more just system of law enforcement and a quality in front of the law, some kind of political system that would allow everyone to be represented. And there are many forces [that] want to stop that, especially petro-dollar, especially those countries that want to maintain this kind of authoritarian rule or family rule. They put their money and they put their effort to stop this Arab Spring and to in fact counter [this] revolution, the whole movement, especially in Egypt. And they succeeded unfortunately in Yemen, in Egypt, in Syria, as we see, in Libya. And now the Arab people are saying “If that [is] the Arab spring, we don’t want it. We [would] rather have some authoritarian rule where we maintain law and order rather than go into democracy and transition to stable democracy”. That is why some people try to sabotage this model which had been presented by the Tunisian people. It is really annoying to see a good model that inspired the whole Arab world is being attacked by those who still believe in mediaeval age kind of political system with the autocratic rule or authoritarian rule, or family rule.


The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.