THE majority of Tunisians consider the murder of at least 22
people, mostly foreign tourists, at the Bardo Museum in the capital
last week, as a "grievous offence to their tradition of hospitality
and welcome", the Assistant Bishop for the North Africa Episcopal
Area and Rector of St George's, Tunis, the Rt Revd Bill Musk, has
Although security in the country has been strengthened, there
are continuing concerns about the ability of jihadist groups to
recruit young, jobless Tunisians.
Pope Francis was among religious leaders who offered prayers for
the victims of the Bardo shooting, which Islamic State (IS) said it
carried out. In a telegram to the Archbishop of Tunis, the Most
Revd Ilario Antoniazzi, the Pope condemned the attack as "against
peace and the sacredness of human life". He assured the families of
the victims, all those affected by the incident, and the whole
Tunisian people, of his continued prayers.
One of the murdered tourists was a solicitor from Shropshire,
Sally Adey. The Bishop of Lincoln, the Rt Revd Christopher Lowson,
said that he was "very deeply saddened and shocked when I heard of
the terrible events in Tunisia, and subsequently learned about the
impact that has had on the community of Scothern, where Sally
Adey's family lives. For a holiday to end in such appalling
circumstances is beyond anything that we could imagine."
Bishop Lowson said that it was important to remember that the
killings in Tunis "were not in the name of the very great majority
of peace-loving Muslim people, but the work of a small number of
very badly misguided extremists; and the solidarity shown by the
local Muslim people in Tunis with those who were killed and injured
has been remarkable."
Bishop Musk, a resident of Tunis for seven years, experienced
that reaction for himself. Since the killings, he said, "many
Tunisians have . . . acknowledged in different ways the shame they
feel that innocent tourists should honour their country by coming
here, and especially by visiting the beautiful Bardo Museum, only
to die there."
As with the assassinations a few years ago of two politicians,
"this way of achieving one's ends is not the Tunisian way. To get
to where they are today in the post-revolution world, Tunisians
have learned to compromise and talk with one another, and find a
way that gives a voice to all - except militant extremists - in
their new politics."
On Monday, the Prime Minister, Habib Essid, sacked six police
chiefs, saying that during his recent visit to the Bardo, several
security failures had come to light. Extra police and security
forces have been deployed at tourism sites and state buildings.
In an audio statement, IS said that two of its members had
carried out the Bardo attack. It threatened more attacks in the
The killings represent a blow to Tunisia, the one Arab country
to emerge from the chaos of the popular uprisings in relatively
good shape. Bishop Musk agrees that security is a big concern as
Tunisia sets out on the democratic path, "especially in the light
of porous borders . . . and tactical expertise from extremists
hiding in the mountains bordering Algeria".