"Honaak mishaakel" says the man in the cell phone store, while he mashes stickers with my sim card barcode on four different contracts and on mypassport copy -- a lot of hassle for a prepaid card over less than 3 dollars, it seems. On his computer screen, there are two windows, one; again; with more contract information and details, and in the other one Poland is currently singing its National Anthem in preparation for yet another Euro Cup pre-finals match. "Des problemes? Quels probleme?" investigates the Belgian women next to me, who is here on a business trip. But our dear salesman does not want to talk. The problems would not be here anyways. But he does urge me to be in my hotel before 9pm.
I use the little Arabic I have and push the man for more information. And indeed, like I expected, clashes betzeen Salafists and Seculars are expected; the government announced a curfew from 9pm to 5am via television. On my way to the little hotel I am staying at, I spot a group of Spanish girls. They don't know much more than I do. "A girl called me and said I needed to go home!" And later I find out that now they cannot have their last day party to celebrate the end of their - months study in Tunisia.
Back in the hotel, the men seem less concerned. "This hardly ever happens," I am told in Arabic while the streets outside are clearing. Then we get into a lengthy conversation about tourism and politics and Tunisia and Palestine and more. It's interesting, and my Arabic almost serves me perfectly well; more on that conversation later.
From the window in my room I gaze at the almost empty square outside. Usually, it is busy at any hour of the day. Merchants and passersby and men in coffeeshops; sometimes women. To me, the big lone-standing arch way in te middle; the Port de Frqnce; has come to sy,bolize the access point from the new city; the Ville Nouvelle, to the medina, in which Arab markets, souqs, must have been flourishing for centuries -- meandering through the narrow streets in there, that ae stuffed with stores on all sides selling clothes and shoes and leather bags and spices, makes me nostalgig of the old city of Jerusalem, where I first got used to this mesh of daily business and tourism attraction. But none of this buzzing hazzle is happening right now. Everyone is home, safe. Just a few men crossing the organge-tinted square every now and again. A police car that I can spot at a distance. Otherwise silence.
In the news today I read that 90 people were arrested; 65 police men wounded, and that clashes are expected to continue. One day before, a call by an al-Qaeda ruler had made headlines (possibly a little more in the US, particularly FOX news, than in Tunisia) because Ayman Zawahiri had called on Tunisians to rise up against the coalition government, to protest the lack of sharia in the constitution. But this had nothing to do with last night's curfew, the government assures.
More information on the clashes: http://www.tunisia-live.net/2012/06/12/at-least-90-arrested-in-connectio...