Leaders from across the world joined tens of thousands of Tunisians on March 29 in a march to defy terrorism, demonstrate unity, and celebrate democracy. It was organized in response to the March 18 terrorist attack on the National Bardo Museum in Tunis that killed 21 foreign tourists and two Tunisians.
Political leaders from France, Italy, the Palestinian Authority, Poland, and Algeria were among the dignitaries in attendance at the march. U.S. Ambassador to Tunisia Jake Walles represented the United States.
ISIL has claimed responsibility for the horrific attack on the Bardo Museum, but Tunisian officials said it was organized by a jihadi group linked to al Qaida’s North Africa branch. On March 28 Tunisian security forces announced they had killed nine members of the group, including Lukman Abu Sakhr, a senior figure in the group. Dozens of other suspected extremists have been arrested.
During Sunday’s march, chants of “Tunisia is Free! Terrorism is Out!” filled the air. One participant, Kamel Saad, told the Reuters news agency, “We have shown we are a democratic people, Tunisians are moderate, and there is no room for terrorists here.”
Tunisia is the country that started the Arab Spring protests in 2010 – popular uprisings that led to the fall of a number of authoritarian governments in the region. Tunisia is the only country so far that has successfully emerged from that period of transition to a democracy, with a new constitution emphasizing the role of human rights, the rule of law, and gender equality. Tunisia has successfully held two elections responsive to the will and aspirations of the Tunisian people.
Sunday’s march in the capital showed the determination of the Tunisian people to defy terrorists who threaten their country’s stability.
Secretary of State John Kerry in a statement expressed the United States’ solidarity with the Tunisian people as they prepared for their march in Tunis.
“We join all those gathered from Tunisia and around the world in rejecting any form of terrorism,” he said. “We commend Tunisians’ resolve, in the wake of this tragedy [at Bardo], to stand up for the ideals of their hard-fought democratic revolution and applaud their efforts to build a secure and prosperous future.”