all 22 countries to have experienced the effects of the 2011 Arab Spring, one country stands alone as not having fallen into chaos or returned to an authoritarian regime. After successful elections last year, Tunisia emerged as the first real democracy of the Arab world. Last week this impressive feat received its first test, of which there may be many. On March 18th, gunmen stormed one of the capital city’s most popular tourist attractions, the Bardo Museum. Killing 19 and wounding many more, this was a brutal act of terrorism, but the damage that has yet to to be determined was that to the suspected target of the attack— the tourism industry in this new democracy.
The attack has raised all sorts of questions as to the effectiveness of the state’s campaign against jihadism, and although this incident was the first successful attack against tourists in Tunisia since 2002, it will be hard to stomach for an economy so dependent on tourism. All of this in the context of rapidly deteriorating stability in neighboring Libya, which has recently split into rival militia alliances and has a growing Islamic State influence. Nevertheless, the people of Tunisia are staying strong; rallying together, supporting the security forces, and crying out, “Long live Tunisia!” Politicians need to follow suit, and recognize the significance of this tragedy in Bardo. It is a call to attention that their amazing democratic revolution isn’t solidified just yet, and getting there is going to take some resilience.