Over 1,000 Tunisians took to the streets of the capital Tunis yesterday to protest against the return of Tunisian militants from Syria, Iraq and neighbouring Libya.
According to authorities around 3,000 Tunisians have travelled to the war zones with around 800 having returned since. Tunisians fear the offensives against Daesh and Daesh losing their stronghold in places like Libya’s Sirte will force the militants to return home.
Protesters shouted slogans like “No return, no freedom for savage [Daesh] bands” or “No repenting, no pardon for terrorists” at yesterday’s demonstrations. Some carried photos of security forces that have been killed fighting extremists on Tunisian borders.
President Beji Caid Essebsi has refused to ban the return of the militants arguing that doing so would be unconstitutional.
“Tunisians need to be reassured by a real political will that makes it clear these criminals won’t be allowed to return,” 33-year-old protester and civil servant Shahnez Mili said.
Tunisian authorities have arrested several dozen alleged militants in a growing crackdown on extremists in recent weeks after Tunisian Anis Amri was identified as the main suspect in last month’s attack on a Berlin Christmas market.
Since the 2011 uprising that ousted longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia has seen an increase in attacks lead by Daesh which have killed scores of policemen and soldiers including 59 foreign tourists.