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Expat wanderer

To Have Diplomatic Immunity, You Actually Need Diplomatic Credentials

Not only did Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad al Thani rent this house before he fled the USA fearing arrest for reckless driving, but now Saudi Prince Majed Abdelaziz Al-Saud rents the same house and is arrested after forcing some young woman to have oral sex. She was seen escaping the house and crawling over the wall to get away. Sorry guys. You may get away with these things in Qatar and Saudi Arabia, but not in the USA. And it’s just embarrassing to claim diplomatic immunity when it’s so easy to prove you have none. We have to play by your rules when we live in your country. It’s called being a good guest. Please pay us the same courtesy. It’s our country.

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From today’s AOL News/Fox News:

A Saudi prince was arrested Wednesday at a compound near Beverly Hills in connection with an alleged sex crime after a bleeding woman was seen trying to flee the grounds.

Majed Abdulaziz Al-Saud, 28, was arrested on suspicion of forced oral copulation of an adult, according to the Los Angeles Times. Police were called to the gated compound after a caretaker at the home reported the disturbance. The Times, citing jail records, reports Al-Saud was freed on $300,000 bail Thursday afternoon. LAPD officer Drake Madison told the newspaper the suspect was booked after 4 p.m.

Capt. Tina Nieto said the police department has a consul liaison that checks with foreign nations’ consulates regarding a certain person’s diplomatic immunity. Nieto said Al-Saud doesn’t have immunity in this case.

Tennyson Collins, a neighbor, told the Times he saw a bleeding woman trying to scale the property’s 8-foot wall on Wednesday. When Collins returned home from work, police followed his car through the gates and then onto the property. He said officers escorted about 20 people out of the compound, most of them staff members.

Police said Al-Saud was renting the home, which Zillow values at $37 million. Collins said different foreign nationals have been renting out the home for weeks at a time over the past year.

Earlier this month, a Qatari prince, Sheikh Khalid bin Hamad al Thani, was videotaped racing a yellow Ferrari through Beverly Hills at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour, blowing through stop signs and frightening residents. Al Thani later denied driving recklessly and claimed he had diplomatic immunity, Beverly Hills police said. Authorities consulted with the State Department and the Qatar consulate and determined he did not have diplomatic immunity, police Chief Dominick Rivetti said during a Sept. 17 news conference.

Al Thani reportedly flew back to Qatar before he could be arrested.

September 25, 2015 Posted by | Bureaucracy, Character, Civility, Crime, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Humor, Interconnected, Law and Order, Leadership, Lies, Living Conditions, Qatar, Quality of Life Issues, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What Do You Wear When It Gets Really Hot?

00SoukDress1The people in my group last week suffered greatly in the high temperatures and high humidity we are experiencing. I must be adapting a little; I remember being thankful for the breeze.

“What do you wear when it gets this hot?” they asked me, “like around the home?”

I laughed. I learned a thing or two in Tunis, in Amman, in Tabuk and Riyadh, in Kuwait and in Doha. At home, I dress like local women, in long loose dresses.

Or worse. I dress like their maids. In the souks you could find wonderful, 100% cotton dresss that were loose and flowing, and that is good in hot weather so the air can circulate. Some of the dresses were nicer, but the dresses I liked a lot for just being around the house doing what people do, like making sure the dishes are done and a meal prepped, doing a little quilting or reading . . . you could buy these great little dresses for about $3.00 in the souks. Not only were they practical – especially when you live in a house with a cat, and always put on “real” clothes just as you are about to run out the door so you don’t have any cat hair on you – but they came in great colors and prints, designs that made me happy to put them on.

 

Now, one of my all time favorite dresses, in purple and black, has bit the dust. I liked it because it had some geometrics, and the geometrics changed, and – it was purple. I have worn it for about six years now, and I have worn it out. I mended it several times when the underarm seams ripped:

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But now, it has gotten all soft, so soft the material just rips easily with holes that cannot be mended.

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I like this dress so much I am saving it and cutting it up so it will have another new life as a quilt 🙂

And I am thinking it is time to plan a trip back to Doha and Kuwait to replenish my hot weather dresses 🙂

August 24, 2014 Posted by | Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Cross Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Financial Issues, Jordan, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Middle East, Pensacola, Qatar, Quality of Life Issues, Saudi Arabia, Shopping, Tunisia | 2 Comments

Study Shows Muslim Nations Differ on How Women Should Dress

Digg started sending me articles, I don’t know why, but every now and then something turns up truly interesting. This is a Pew Research Center Study found in Slate Online Magazine:

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Charted: How People in Seven Muslim Countries Believe Women Should Dress

By Joshua Keating

As the chart above, created by the Pew Research Center, goes, there’s quite a bit of variation over what constitutes proper dress for women in the Islamic world. The data for the chart come from the Middle Eastern Values Survey conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. (Several hundred people comprising what the researchers describe as a nationally representative sample in terms of education, religion, and social class were polled in each country. The gender breakdown was close to 50–50 in each of them.)

As you’ll see, the majority overall said that a woman should completely cover her hair but not her face. The majority in conservative Saudi Arabia favored the face-covering niqab, while relatively liberal Lebanon and Turkey had the highest support for no covering at all. (Hijabs are still prohibited for women in a number of jobs in Turkey.)

Overall, Tunisia had the highest number of respondents (56 percent) saying it is “up to a woman to dress whichever way she wants.” Only 14 percent of Egyptians agreed. Interestingly, given that it has the most stringent legal dress codes of any country sampled, 47 percent of Saudis said women should be able to dress how they wish.

January 10, 2014 Posted by | Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Saudi Arabia, Social Issues, Tunisia, Turkey, Values, Women's Issues | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

God Vs. Worry; God Wins

One of the things that adds texture to my life, and helps keep me on the straight and narrow (and that takes a LOT) is reading the daily lectionary every single morning of the year, before I do anything else. Normal days, I access it from my computer, traveling or appointment days, I can access it from my iPad or iPhone. It’s like a little extra fence that helps keep me safe from myself and my own creativity when it comes to evil.

There is another side, the blessing side. In one of the bible studies I attend, we learn, over and over that God blesses the believer. You don’t have to be perfect – and it’s a good thing, because none of us are. If you want to see how much God can love a sinner, just read your bible. Sin is one of the main characters, right along side Abraham and Sarah, Job, Lot, and especially King David.

But in my life, I have seen wondrous things, and I have had some totally WOW moments when God has blessed me beyond any prayer I could have raised. One of those moments was showering under a waterfall near an oasis in the Tunisian desert. Two others happened this year, and these were blessings that stopped me in my tracks with their timing and aptness. First, we got an unexpected tax refund which arrived in our account just in time to cover the big expensive air conditioning system on the main floor when it broke and had to be replaced.

Second, when we were looking for the last few thousand dollars to help us buy a new car (we prefer to pay cash) we got another tax refund – we had asked that they re-look taxes for a move, and they allowed the moving expenses. We had waited almost a year for that decision; we had waited so long we had pretty much forgotten and given up on it. I mean tax refunds – it’s a never-never land, it all seems so arbitrary. You can have a perfect case, and it can be denied for a reason you’ve never heard of.

God’s timing is perfect. His sense of humor is breath-taking. The funds we needed poured into our hands just when we needed them, in just the right amount.

Matthew 6:25-34

25 ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink,* or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?* 28And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.

30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” 32For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33But strive first for the kingdom of God* and his* righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

34 ‘So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

September 30, 2013 Posted by | Cultural, ExPat Life, Faith, Family Issues, Financial Issues, Lectionary Readings, Moving, Spiritual, Tunisia | 2 Comments

Happy 7th Blog-iversary to Me!

Once a year I get to troll the internet looking for cakes. It is so much fun. I had no idea there is so much creativity out there, so much daring. I found a wedding cake that is tilted! Something in me loved it, loved the spirit of a woman who would marry knowing life is often off-kilter and messy.

I love white roses, so this year I have sent some to myself:

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Come on by, have some virtual cake with me to celebrate seven years of blogging:

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And here, an elegant combination of cake and white roses:

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Seven years ago in Kuwait, I started blogging. There was a wild blogging scene in Kuwait, a lively community. Blogs were candid, and many were substantial, dealing (carefully) with political and economic issues in Kuwait. I remember reading and learning, and finally gathering up my courage to write my very first entry, and it has been a recurring theme, cross-cultural communication. I learned so much from my life in the Middle East, Tunisia, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait. I made the most amazing friends. It changed my life and my perceptions utterly.

Of the three Kuwait female bloggers who inspired me to start blogging, Jewaira has gone private, 1001 Nights is a good friend, a mother, and an author 🙂 and Desert Girl is still going strong. Mark, at 2:48 a.m. is also still going strong, so strong that he has been able to leave his full time employment and operate on a consultant basis.

Of course, as any blogger will, I sometimes think of quitting. There are days I find myself with nothing to say, nothing in my life so interesting that I think it is worth sharing, not even a news story worth noting. So I’ve had to ask myself why I continue.

I do it for myself. When I started, I had a reason and that reason still stands. I forget things. This isn’t age-related, it’s busy-life busy-world related; we forget the details.

My Mother saved all my letters from Tunisia. I remember reading them and laughing because at three, my son’s best friend in his day school was a boy he called Cutlet. I know his real name is Khalid, but Cutlet was as close as this little American boy in a French-Tunisian school could get. I had totally forgotten, until I read the letter. So my primary reason for continuing to blog is documentary – just plain record keeping, like an old fashioned diary. Noting things in my daily life or the life around me.

Even now, sometimes I see a post written long ago, usually one of our Africa trips, Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Zambia – will start getting a rush of stats. It thrills my heart. It makes it all worthwhile, knowing something I have put out there is helping others, even years later. Perhaps one day, I will quit blogging, but leave the blog up, with these informational articles.

My stats make no sense at all, one of my biggest stat gainers this year was a news article I tossed off about the prank on the South Korean pilot names after the plane crash landed in San Francisco. It just made me giggle, and I couldn’t resist printing it. It ended up with a life of its own, as many entries do – and you just never know. Someone pins an image and you get a million (ok hyperbole here) hits you never expected.

In the end, I believe that those who keep blogging do it because as Martin Luther once said, “I cannot other.” We do it because something within needs to be expressed, even if it is just some kind of daily record. I know it’s why I blog.

September 6, 2013 Posted by | Adventure, Africa, Blogging, Botswana, Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Friends & Friendship, Interconnected, Jordan, Kuwait, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Tanzania, Travel, Tunisia, Zambia, Zanzibar | | 8 Comments

Name that Country: A Most Difficult Challenge

This morning, as I was praying for Panama – there is always a diocese listed in the daily lectionary to be prayed for somewhere in the world – I was thinking how I know where Panama is. When we are praying for Nigeria, there are names I haven’t heard of. I now Lagos, and Port Harcourt, but where is Abuja? Owerri? I go to GoogleEarth and look them up.

 

I struggle with how little the average American knows about geographical location. It’s just embarrassing. Through all the years I lived abroad, most of the time, unless it was Germany, people couldn’t quite place where I was living. Many had heard of Tunisia; we had troops there in World War II, and Saudi Arabia, because they had seen it often enough on the news, but the rest of the Arab Gulf, Jordan, Syria, North Africa – beyond them.

 

Then, on the first night of one of my grad classes, the professor handed us this map and gave us ten minutes to put in the appropriate country names. He did not, thanks be to God, ask us to put in capitals. Not a single one of us got them all, and this was a class full of nation-oriented people.

samerica

 

 

It was also on the final exam, three months later, and most of us got them all right – thanks to some fervent cramming and study groups.

 

Here are a couple more maps, in case you are feeling cocky. See if you can accurately fill in the name of each country:

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Unknown

Bonne chance!

 

 

 

July 16, 2013 Posted by | Africa, Cultural, Education, Entertainment, ExPat Life, Experiment, Geography / Maps, Germany, GoogleEarth, Interconnected, Jordan, Lectionary Readings, Middle East, Pet Peeves, Random Musings, Travel, Tunisia | | Leave a comment

Welcome Ramadan 2013!

 

 

 

happy-ramadan

 

My first Ramadan was in Tunisia. It was summer, it was hot, and the days were long. The days dragged by, and then, in the evenings, our neighbors would send over huge platters of lamb and couscous, hot and spicy, to share with us. Our neighbors had ten children, all around our age, some older, some younger, and cars would arrive endlessly, bringing and taking people. They often included us in the family gatherings, out of the kindness and generosity of their hearts.

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I didn’t understand how it all worked, Ramadan and fasting, and they would explain it to me. It’s a lot to take in. It took me a long time, many years, many Muslem countries, many Muslim friends. I still don’t think I understand all of it, but I understand enough of it to know this – it’s like a month of Christmas Eves.

 

A good Muslim won’t just fast from sunrise to sundown. A good Muslim circumcises his or her heart in this time. A good Muslim will read through the entire Quran at least once during Ramadan. The whole point of the sacrifice is to purify the soul.

 

I wish for my Muslim friends a joyful Ramadan, full of blessings. May God our Creator and Heavenly Father receive your sacrifice and bless your fasting. May your Mama prepare all your favorite foods for the breaking of the fast. 🙂

July 8, 2013 Posted by | Community, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Faith, Ramadan, Tunisia | Leave a comment

Arabs wary of expressing their opinions online

Fascinating study results published in Qatar’s Gulf Times:

 

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Northwestern University in Qatar has released new findings from an eight-nation survey indicating many people in the Arab world do not feel safe expressing political opinions online despite sweeping changes in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.

From over 10,000 people surveyed in Lebanon, Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan and the UAE, 44% expressed some doubt as to whether people should be free to criticise governments or powerful institutions online.

Over a third of Internet users surveyed said they worry about governments checking what they do online.

According to the report, “The implied concern (of governments checking what they do online) is fairly consistent in almost all countries covered, but more acute in Saudi Arabia, where the majority (53%) of those surveyed expressed this concern.”

The study – titled ‘Media Use in the Middle East – An Eight-Nation Survey’ – was undertaken by researchers at NU-Q to better understand how people in the region use the Internet and other media. It comes as the university moves towards a more formalised research agenda and is the first in what will be a series of reports relating to Internet use.

The survey includes a specific chapter on Qatar, the only country where those surveyed regarded the Internet as a more important source of news than television. “We took an especially close look at media use in the State of Qatar – a country with one of the highest Internet penetration rates in the Arab world—and internationally,” said NU-Q dean and CEO Everette Dennis.

These findings follow a preliminary report NU-Q released last April that showed web users in the Middle East support the freedom to express opinions online, but they also believe the Internet should be more tightly regulated. “While this may seem a puzzling paradox, it has not been uncommon for people the world over to support freedom in the abstract but less so in practice,” Dennis explained.

Among other findings, the research shows: 45% of people think public officials will care more about what they think and 48% believe they can have more influence by using the Internet.

Adults in Lebanon (75%) and Tunisia (63%) are the most pessimistic about the direction of their countries and feel they are on the ‘wrong track.’

Respondents were far more likely to agree (61%) than disagree (14%) that the quality of news reporting in the Arab world has improved in the past two years, however less than half think overall that the news sources in their countries are credible.

Online transactions are rare in the Middle East, with only 35% purchasing items online and only 16% investing online.

The complete set of results from the survey is available online at menamediasurvey.northwestern.edu.  The new interactive pages hosting the survey on the website have features that allow users to make comparisons between different countries, as well as between different demographics within each country.

Dennis confirmed that the research report is the first in an annual series of reports produced in collaboration with the World Internet Project; one of the world’s most extensive studies on the Internet, in which NU-Q is a participating institution.

NU-Q and WIP signed an agreement earlier in the year, providing a global platform for the current research.

June 29, 2013 Posted by | Blogging, Bureaucracy, Communication, Community, Cross Cultural, Cultural, ExPat Life, Jordan, Leadership, Living Conditions, Middle East, Privacy, Qatar, Safety, Saudi Arabia, Social Issues, Survival, Transparency, Tunisia | , , , | Leave a comment

Benghazi Terrorist Suspect Extradited from Turkey to Tunisia

Turkey originally arrested two suspects early in October; you can read the article here. It is also from the HuffPost. Huff Post

By BOUAZZA BEN BOUAZZA 10/24/12 05:37 PM ET EDT

TUNIS, Tunisia — A Tunisian man who was arrested in Turkey this month with reported links to the attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya is facing terrorism charges, his lawyer said Wednesday, as an Egyptian official said a militant suspected of involvement was killed in clashes in Cairo.

Ali Harzi was repatriated to Tunisia on Oct. 11 by authorities in Turkey, and a judge issued his arrest warrant, lawyer Ouled Ali Anwar told The Associated Press. He said his client was told by a judge Tuesday that he has been charged with “membership of a terrorist organization in a time of peace in another country.”

A person who saw Harzi’s court dossier told The Associated Press that the file links him to the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that left Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead.

He said Harzi is one of two Tunisians reportedly arrested Oct. 3 in Turkey when they tried to enter the country with false passports. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information. Harzi’s alleged role in the attack is not clear.

Anwar denied there was any evidence that Ali was implicated in the attacks. He added his client was not using a fake passport, saying he was a “scapegoat to satisfy the Americans.”

The charge against Harzi is punishable by six to 12 years in prison, according to the provisions of the anti-terrorist law in force in Tunisia since 2003.

Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the U.S. has been looking into the arrests of two Tunisian men being detained in Turkey reportedly in connection with the attacks. The State Department in Washington had no further comment on Wednesday.

A U.S. intelligence official was cautious about the Tunisian arrest, saying that the Tunisians have so far not allowed American officials to interview the suspect, so the U.S. is not yet certain how directly he is connected to the attack.

The suspect has ties to both Ansar al-Shariah and Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, as do most like-minded militants in the region, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly.

Tunisian Interior Ministry spokesman Tarrouch Khaled confirmed that Harzi was in custody in Tunis. Khaled said “his case is in the hands of justice,” but he would not elaborate further.

In Egypt, a security official said a local militant suspected of involvement in the attack was killed in clashes in Cairo when he attacked approaching Egyptian forces.

The official said the man, known only by his first name, Hazem, recently returned from Libya and kept weapons in his hideout. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters, said an investigation into the man’s possible involvement in the consulate attack is under way.

This is the first time an Egyptian has been declared a suspect in the attack.

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Kimberly Dozier in Washington and Sarah El Deeb in Cairo contributed to this report.

October 24, 2012 Posted by | Africa, Crime, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Tunisia | , | Leave a comment

Salafi Led Crowd Attacks American Embassy in Tunis

Have you been watching the attack on the Embassy in Tunis?” my Mom asked as we were chatting. She and Dad had visited us in Tunis when we were stationed there. Dad rented a car, and then turned it back in when the driving was too scary for him. Mom let out the waists in all her dresses so they would be loose and flow-y in the hot September of Tunisia.

No, no I hadn’t been watching, I’d had a busy morning.

My memories of the Embaassy in Tunis are so sweet. Just off Place Pasteur, and pretty much everyone knew everyone. In the autumn months, the tiny embassy commissary sold avocados from one of the embassy employee’s trees, great huge avocados – not available any where else in Tunisia.

We lived near The Butcher with the Blue Awning, in Mutuelville, We lived in a villa surrounded by a family with 12 children, around our ages, who adopted us and especially me and our son. The women took me everywhere; it was one of the most memorable postings of my life. They took me to a local hairdresser to get ready for a wedding party; the style he gave me for the evening is a style I wear to this day, I loved it so much, sort of 1930’s French retro. There was one supermarket, and mostly it had canned tuna, canned tomatoes and sometimes fresh milk. We took our own containers to the olive oil man, and stood in line when a fresh shipment arrived. He would weigh our container, fill it, weigh it again and charge by the weight. Some of the best, freshest olive oil I have ever tasted and cooked with, and so inexpensive.

My heart breaks that this sweet embassy would be attacked. Salafist led, of course. When they cannot win the votes of the hearts and men, they resort to violence. AYB! AYB! (Shame! Shame!)

Tunisia Embassy Protest: Black Smoke Seen Rising Above Building
By BOUAZZA BEN BOUAZZA 09/14/12 05:43 PM ET

TUNIS, Tunisia — Violent protests outside the U.S. Embassy in Tunis against an anti-Muslim film were met with tear gas and gunshots Friday, leaving two people dead, around 40 others injured and plumes of black smoke wafting over the city.

Several dozen protesters briefly stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in Tunisia’s capital, tearing down the American flag and raising a flag with the Muslim profession of faith on it as part of the protests. Protesters also set fire to and looted an American school adjacent to the embassy compound and prevented firefighters from approaching it. The school appeared to be empty and no injuries were reported.

Earlier, several thousand demonstrators had gathered outside the U.S. Embassy, including stone-throwing protesters who clashed with police, according to an Associated Press reporter on the scene. Police responded with gunshots and tear gas. Police and protesters held running battles in the streets of Tunis. Amid the unrest, youths set fire to cars in the embassy parking lot and pillaged businesses nearby.

The state news agency TAP, citing the health ministry, said both of those killed were demonstrators, while the injured included protesters and police. Two of the injured were in critical condition, the health ministry said.

A Tunisian employee of the U.S. Embassy who had an injured leg was taken out on a stretcher to an ambulance. It wasn’t immediately clear if there were any other injuries. Embassy officials did not respond to calls and emails.

The group that breached the U.S. Embassy’s outer wall was eventually pushed back outside by a huge deployment of police and special forces. As night fell, the crowd of protesters outside the embassy dwindled to a handful.

The al-Wataniya 1 television station said the presidential guard also intervened and escorted the U.S. ambassador and about 80 embassy personnel away from the site to safety.

Crowds angry over an anti-Muslim film ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad have assaulted U.S. embassies across the Middle East.

The degree of violence in Tunisia surprised many and raised new questions about the direction of the country, where an uprising last year forced out its longtime president and set off pro-democracy revolts across the Arab world. A once-banned Islamist party came to power in elections last year, but the moderate government has struggled to quell protests by increasingly vocal ultraconservative Muslims known as Salafis.

Reuters reports:


By Tarek Amara

TUNIS, Sept 14 (Reuters) – At least two people were killed and 29 others were wounded on Friday when police fought hundreds of protesters who ransacked the U.S. embassy in Tunisia in their fury over a film denigrating the Prophet Mohammad, state television said.

Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki condemned what he called “an attack against the embassy of a friendly nation”.

Tunisia expects Washington to guarantee around a fifth of the $2.2-2.5 billion its needs to borrow next year to help its economy recover after its revolution last year overthew its veteran leader and triggered the Arab Spring uprisings.

A Reuters reporter saw police open fire to try to quell the assault, in which protesters forced their way past riot police into the embassy.

The protesters smashed windows, hurled petrol bombs and stones at police from inside, and started fires in the embassy and the compound. A black plume of smoke rose from the building.

One protester was seen throwing a computer out of a window, while others walked away with telephones and computers.

A Tunisian security officer near the compound said the embassy had not been staffed on Friday, and calls to the embassy went unanswered. A Reuters reporter saw two armed U.S. soldiers on the roof.

Health Minister Khalil Zaouia told state media at least two people died and 29 were injured, revising down an earlier toll from state television which said three died and 28 had been wounded.

The protesters, many of whom were Islamic Salafists, also set fire to the nearby American School, which was closed at the time, and took away laptops and tablet computers.

The protests began after Friday prayers and followed a rallying call on Facebook by Islamist activists that was quickly endorsed by the local faction of the Islamic militant group Ansar al-Sharia.

FLAG BURNED

An Interior Ministry spokesman said police were hunting Saif-Allah Benahssine, the leader of the Tunisian branch of Ansar al-Sharia to interrogate him about the incidents. Better known under the alias Abu Iyadh, Benahssine is also a prominent figure in Tunisia’s Salafist movement.

Libyan officials suspect the Libyan branch of Ansar al-Sharia of being behind an attack in Benghazi in which four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, were killed on Tuesday.

The moderate Islamist Ennahda movement, which heads the Tunis government, had advised Tunisians against participating in the protest against the crude, low-budget film, made in California and trailed online, which portrayed the Prophet engaged in vulgar and offensive behaviour.

“The (Tunisian) government does not accept these acts of aggression against foreign diplomatic missions,” said a statement read on state television. It said Tunisian authorities were “committed to ensuring the safety of foreign diplomatic missions”.

Hundreds of protesters wielding petrol bombs, stones and sticks had charged at the security forces protecting the embassy before jumping a wall to invade the compound.

“Obama, Obama, we are all Osamas,” they chanted, in reference to the slain al Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden.

The protesters pulled down the U.S. flag flying over the embassy, burned it, and replaced it with a black flag emblazoned with the Shahada, the Islamic declaration of faith.

Riot police finally drove the protesters from the embassy and the compound, and a Reuters reporter saw them arresting around 60.

The compound was cordoned off by police, soldiers and members of the elite presidential guard, but clashes continued in the el-Aouina district across a highway from the smart Auberge du Lac neighbourhood where the embassy is located.

Marzouki, in an address broadcast on state media, said he had spoke to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and condemned the attack as “unacceptable considering its implications on our relations with” Washington.

“This attack is part of a wider plan aimed at stoking hatred between the people,” he said.

September 14, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Africa, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Tunisia | , , | Leave a comment