Since its democratic revolution in 2010/2011, a number of violent attacks have disrupted Tunisia’s traditional tranquillity. Two political assassinations in 2013 (Al Jazeera, 2013) were followed in 2015 by Islamic State (ISIL) attacks at the Bardo Museum, a Sousse beach resort, and downtown Tunis, killing 72 people (BBC News, 2017). In 2016, ISIL fighters seeking to establish an “emirate” in southern Tunisia killed 18 security-service members and civilians before being repulsed (Arab Weekly, 2019).
A period of relative calm ended last October with a suicide bombing that injured 15 people, mainly police officers (BBC News, 2018). The country remains under a state of emergency imposed in 2015 and extended again in April 2019 (Business News, 2019) amid political tensions ahead of elections late this year and intermittent protests against government economic policies (Middle East Monitor, 2019a, 2019b). An additional security concern is posed by Tunisians who left to fight with ISIL and have since returned (Meko, 2018).
Against this background, how do ordinary Tunisians perceive their personal safety and public security?
Findings from the most recent Afrobarometer survey show that while security is an important issue for Tunisians, far fewer citizens consider it a top priority than did in 2015. Few Tunisians think their personal safety from crime and violence has improved, and most say the government is doing a poor job of reducing crime. But most trust the army to protect the country against external and internal security threats, and most are willing to sacrifice some personal freedoms in the name of security.
A majority of citizens want Tunisians who fought alongside ISIL to face legal consequences.