World Social Forum activists gather as Bardo Museum delays opening | News | DW | 24.03.2015
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World Social Forum activists gather as Bardo Museum delays opening

Thousands of international activists are gathering in the Tunisian capital for an alternative globalization forum. The city's Bardo Museum has delayed its planned public reopening after last week's attack on tourists.

Officials at the National Bardo Museum said on Tuesday that a planned reopening to the public was delayed, less than a week after 20 tourists and a police officer were killed by at least two gunmen at the site.

"We have been surprised at the last minute, but the Interior Ministry says that for security reasons we cannot receive a large number of visitors," the museum's head of communications, Hanene Srarfi, told AFP news agency, adding that no date had been set for allowing the public back in. "The interior and culture ministers decided that this afternoon would be an official event for the media and public figures... for the public it's still too early."

Museum curator Moncef Ben Moussa on Tuesday told Radio Shems that the reopening would be delayed, citing logistics and security as the reasons for the last-minute change.

Tunesien Tunis Versammlung Anteilnahme Bürger Terroranschlag Bardo Museum

Tunisians gathered after the attack to show solidarity with the victims

Alternative international forum goes ahead

Also on Tuesday, the World Social Forum, an international gathering of activists billed as the critics' answer to the World Economic Forum in Davos, was due to begin in Tunis. DW correspondent Sarah Mersch reported that more than 4,000 non-governmental organizations were due to be represented and tens of thousands of globalization critics from around the world would attend. Organizers decided to go ahead with hosting the event in Tunisia's capital despite the Bardo attack.

"All international delegations confirmed their programmed participation without any change," the organizers posted on the forum's Facebook page following an urgent meeting on March 19. They said that their decision stressed solidarity with Tunisia, its people and the victims' families, and their commitment to "peace and solidarity principles among peoples for freedom and democracy."

As part of the forum, an opening march was planned for Tuesday to end at the Bardo Museum, under the banner "Peoples of the world united against terrorism."

"We are in direct contact with the Tunisian authorities, to guarantee maximum security for the participants," Moheddine Cherbib, one of the Tunisian organizers, told DW.

The World Social Forum was also held in Tunis back in 2013.

Tourism industry key to Tunis

Last week's assault and siege targeting foreigners, claimed by the "Islamic State" militant group, could damage the country's tourism industry.

Tourism is an important earner for Tunisia, the country known as the birthplace of the Arab Spring and widely considered its only success in terms of transitioning to democracy. However, Tunisia has struggled to quell attacks on security forces by extremists since the 2011 ousting of leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and it's estimated that some 3,000 Tunisians have joined jihadist groups in Iraq, Syria and Libya.

The March 18 attack was the country's deadliest in more than a decade. In another move aimed at restoring tourist confidence, Prime Minister Habib Essid sacked several police commanders on Monday.

se/msh (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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