Update, 1:55 p.m.: Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi gave a televised address on Saturday, saying that “exceptional circumstances require exceptional measures” while reportedly avoiding constitutional questions raised by the declaration of the state of emergency:
Original post, 1:28 p.m.: The office of Tunisia’s president, Beji Caid Essebsi, declared a state of emergency in the country on Saturday, eight days after a shocking attack on a beach and hotel in the resort town of Sousse that killed 38 people, most of them British tourists. Authorities also announced this week that eight people were arrested on suspicion of cooperating with the 28-year-old assailant, Seifeddine Rezgui, who was killed by police.
AFP reports that the conditions imposed by Saturday’s action include a ban on most public assemblies and labor strikes and that security forces will be authorized to “carry out raids on homes at any time of the day and to keep tabs on the media”:
Independent political analyst Selim Kharrat questioned the timing of Essebsi’s announcement, eight days after the beach attack, and warned that a state of emergency “could become an excellent tool of repression.”
Tunisia has faced a post-revolution surge in jihadist violence in which dozens of police and soldiers have been killed.
The June 26 beach shooting was the second such rampage in three months, after another jihadist attack at the National Bardo Museum in Tunis on March 18 that killed 21 tourists and a policeman.
The government response will reportedly include a crackdown on militant recruiters working through houses of worship, with authories vowing to close 80 mosques that are “operating illegally or preaching extremist messages,” according to Reuters.