Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

« Previous Post | Babylon & Beyond Home | Next Post »

TUNISIA: Tunisian authorities impose curfew

May 8, 2011 | 12:38 am


Tunisia's interim government imposed a curfew late Saturday after riot police fired tear gas and scuffled with hundreds of anti-government protesters.

The Interior Ministry was quoted on state television as saying the curfew would remain in effect from 9 p.m. Saturday until 5 a.m. Sunday.

The curfew came as protesters took to the streets of the North African country, where the "Arab Spring" of unrest began in January, after fears spread that the interim administration plans to renege on its commitment to democracy after the removal of President Zine el Abidine ben Ali.

Tensions increased this week after a former interior minister said Ben Ali loyalists might seize power in a coup if Islamists won elections scheduled for July.

A Facebook page calling for the former minister to become the president attracted more than 10,000 "Likes," according to Al Jazeera satellite network, before it was deleted Saturday with the return of the Tunisian Internet Agency, a censorship tool of the Ben Ali regime.

The agency blocked the Facebook page of activist Jalel Brick under a new censorship law that, the Tunisian news website Webdo reported Saturday, has been quietly passed by the interim government.

Tunisian internet users trying to access Brick's Facebook profile were told, "This web page has been filtered in accordance with a requisition from the examining magistrate at the request of the Tunis Military Tribunal."

Saturday's protests also coincided with the conviction of a nephew of Leila Trabelsi, Tunisia's former first lady, on drug charges. Imad Trabelsi was sentenced to two years in prison and a $1,000 fine Saturday, Mokhtar Trifi, president of the Tunisian League of Human Rights, told Al Jazeera.

Imad Trabelsi is the second member of Ben Ali's family to be convicted of a crime since the president fled the country in January.

--Molly Hennessy-Fiske in Cairo

Photo: Tunisian riot police confront protesters Friday in downtown Tunis during a demonstration organized by youths denouncing the transitional government and calling for a "new revolution." Credit: Fethi Belaid / AFP/Getty Images.