Bardo museum reopens a week after killings

Tunisia keen to show it can recover from attack, while amateur footage from within the museum emerges

Tunisia’s Bardo museum held a ceremonial reopening yesterday, a week after gunmen claiming alliance with Islamic State killed 20 foreign tourists in an attack aimed at wrecking the country’s vital tourism industry.

The reopening coincided with the emergence of an amateur video filmed by an Italian couple at the museum at the time of the attack, that shows people running away, while the sound of gunshots are audible.

Several thousand Tunisians and foreign visitors to an international forum marched in the capital Tunis to show solidarity with the Bardo victims who included Japanese, Spanish, Italians and Colombians.

Tunisia is keen to show it can recover from the attack which threatens to damage tourism and mar the country's young democracy four years after a 2011 uprising ended the one-party rule of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.


Last Wednesday, at least two Tunisian men opened fire on tourists as they got off buses at the Bardo, in one of the worst such incidents in the North African nation for a decade.

Security forces later shot dead the two men, who had been recruited at mosques in Tunisia and trained at a jihadist camp in Libya.

Visit Tunisia

Tunisians carrying national flags and waving “Visit Tunisia” signs gathered behind barriers outside the Bardo, where dignitaries were invited under tight security to a symbolic reopening with an orchestra playing inside the museum hall.

The Bardo, which has a famed collection of art and artifacts covering more than 3,000 years of history, is expected to welcome back the public at the weekend.

“We don’t have any fear, we just want to show solidarity with our country, the government and the Tunisian people,” said Tunisian businessman Ali Degez.

Participants at the World Social Forum being held in Tunis marched down a boulevard near the museum, waving Tunisia’s red-and-white flag and chanting “Terrorists out” and “Tunisia still Stands”.

Tunisia’s tourism minister has said only 3,000 cancellations had been received since the killings, but the impact is likely to be much greater. Cruise lines have announced they will suspend visits, meaning thousands fewer visitors.

Last year, some six million tourists came to Tunisia, generating about $2 billion (€1.8 billion) in revenues. The Bardo assault shocked Tunisia, which had mostly managed to escape the upheaval of other “Arab Spring” countries.

Tunisia has been hailed as a model for compromise politics between secular and Islamist politicians. – (Reuters)