March 25th 2012, professionals, amateurs, and drama students gathered to launch the festivities of the World Theatre Day which will take place on March 27th. They chose to do so in closed theatres as well as in the public space of the Habib Bourguiba Avenue, in order to celebrate the event in a festive and popular mood. The event was granted full authorization by the Interior ministry.
But no sooner had the event, supposed to be a celebration, scheduled and prepared for the past 3 months, started, that a crowd of determined fundamentalists tried to stop it from taking place, by all means, including violence. The two stages which had been set up on the avenue were respectively destroyed and occupied by these groups, after having forced the artists to leave. Some of the participants were assaulted physically without the police intervening, although they were in number at the scene. When they did eventually react, it was to push the artists into the Municipal Theatre, and keep them locked in there for over a couple of hours.
We, stage women and men, artists from every horizon, vigorously condemn the Interior ministry:
1-For its passivity and complacency towards these violent and organized groups, while citizens were being assaulted.
2-For having generated this situation, in granting the fundamentalist associations a legal authorization, at the same time and place as the organizers of the theatrical event.
We also condemn the ministry of Culture whose responsibility is to protect artists and cultural events, but showed a sheer lack of responsibility, by abandoning them to the fundamentalists.
We demand that these two ministries firmly and without delay condemn these dangerous acts, and publicly apologize, each acknowledging their blatant responsibility in the violence towards the artists, and the men and women of culture.
We are calling all political parties, in particular those of the governmental coalition, the Unions, and the civil society organizations, to take a firm stand without delay, and to fully condemn this attack, full of hatred and deliberate, and isn’t the first of its kind, against any free form of artistic expression in this country.
We consider any silence regarding the events that took place on Habib Bourguiba Avenue as a conniving silence, and an encouragement towards hatred and the division of the Tunisian people
Association Tunisienne des Diplômés des Instituts d'Art Dramatique
Riadh BEL HADJ SALEM
Ahmed Amine BEN SAAD
Mariem EL KAMBOUDI