Interior minister denies violence in theatre protests

Jalila Baccar accuses Tunisian government of ignoring violence

GMT 16:52 2012 Monday ,26 March

Arab Today, arab today Jalila Baccar accuses Tunisian government of ignoring violence

Tunisian actress Jalila Baccar
Tunisia - Nabil Zaghdoud

Tunisian actress Jalila Baccar Tunisian actress Jalila Baccar has said that many entertainment artists were subjected to violence during International Theatre Day. The interior ministry however hit back saying that there was no violence during the "People want Theatre" protests  and the counter-protest organised by Salafists in Habib Bourguiba Avenue.
The avenue witnessed on Sunday two opposing protests. The first was by graduates of the institute of drama and theatre and the second by Salafists.
Baccar said to Arabstoday: “Participants in the International Theater Day were subjected to oral and physical harassment from members of the counter-protest”. She added: “Several groups started throwing eggs, stones and plastic bottles at the artists, and they forced us to take shelter in the National Theatre.
"I called the police three times and nothing happened.”
Baccar called the interior ministry to issue her complaint against its denial of her versio of the events. “It’s not acceptable that artists are exposed to humiliation and bullying with no reaction from political parties.”
The ministery had assured of tight precautions to protect the celebration of the International Theatre Day and the Salafist march against the desecration of holy places; and denied the occurence of violence in both events.
It explained in its statement: “The activists in the Salafists march changed their route to the National Theatre to protest opposite to it to affect the celebration of International Theatre Day.”
Its organisers have denied their connection to the group.
It said: "Security units had secured the celebration by forming a cordon to separate the two groups. The celebration ended at 2pm as per the agreement with the organisers and the police forces, who supervised their departure safely before dispersing the crowd before letting traffic flow."
The ministry of interior said it would protect the freedom of expression and cultural creativity at all costs.

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