International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

In Tunisia, One Brother Studied Philosophy, Another Gunned Down Tourists

A recent article on the New York Times portrays the identities of two gunmen (Jabeur Khachnaou and Yassine Abidi) behind the March 18 shootings at the National Bardo Museum in Tunis that resulted in the deaths of over 20 foreign tourists and a police officer. Similar to an article published earlier in the year and the video we watched in class on Islam Yaken, this article discusses the drastically different lives of two brothers who grew up in a small, impoverished town in Southwest Tunis.

The older brother, whose first name was not revealed, left the town to study philosophy in Tunis. In the meantime, the younger brother stayed at home with the rest of the family, and eventually became intensely religious, associating himself with the radical Islamic teachings while attending school in the neighboring town of Sbiba.

The fact that such a tragedy took place in Tunisia is notable because Tunisia is the only state involved in the Arab Spring to make a successful transition to democracy, even though the country is still trying to figure out what role Islam plays in a democracy. The article highlights problems arising from porous borders of North Africa and the Middle East, where terrorists and other radical elements can travel relatively unhindered from one state to the next. For instance, a few of the accomplices of the two gunmen traveled into Tunisia from Libya and Syria. The tragedy also shows the quick diffusion of radical Islam and its consequences into lands far from immediate ISIS territories.

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