Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Salafi Led Crowd Attacks American Embassy in Tunis

Have you been watching the attack on the Embassy in Tunis?” my Mom asked as we were chatting. She and Dad had visited us in Tunis when we were stationed there. Dad rented a car, and then turned it back in when the driving was too scary for him. Mom let out the waists in all her dresses so they would be loose and flow-y in the hot September of Tunisia.

No, no I hadn’t been watching, I’d had a busy morning.

My memories of the Embaassy in Tunis are so sweet. Just off Place Pasteur, and pretty much everyone knew everyone. In the autumn months, the tiny embassy commissary sold avocados from one of the embassy employee’s trees, great huge avocados – not available any where else in Tunisia.

We lived near The Butcher with the Blue Awning, in Mutuelville, We lived in a villa surrounded by a family with 12 children, around our ages, who adopted us and especially me and our son. The women took me everywhere; it was one of the most memorable postings of my life. They took me to a local hairdresser to get ready for a wedding party; the style he gave me for the evening is a style I wear to this day, I loved it so much, sort of 1930’s French retro. There was one supermarket, and mostly it had canned tuna, canned tomatoes and sometimes fresh milk. We took our own containers to the olive oil man, and stood in line when a fresh shipment arrived. He would weigh our container, fill it, weigh it again and charge by the weight. Some of the best, freshest olive oil I have ever tasted and cooked with, and so inexpensive.

My heart breaks that this sweet embassy would be attacked. Salafist led, of course. When they cannot win the votes of the hearts and men, they resort to violence. AYB! AYB! (Shame! Shame!)

Tunisia Embassy Protest: Black Smoke Seen Rising Above Building

TUNIS, Tunisia — Violent protests outside the U.S. Embassy in Tunis against an anti-Muslim film were met with tear gas and gunshots Friday, leaving two people dead, around 40 others injured and plumes of black smoke wafting over the city.

Several dozen protesters briefly stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in Tunisia’s capital, tearing down the American flag and raising a flag with the Muslim profession of faith on it as part of the protests. Protesters also set fire to and looted an American school adjacent to the embassy compound and prevented firefighters from approaching it. The school appeared to be empty and no injuries were reported.

Earlier, several thousand demonstrators had gathered outside the U.S. Embassy, including stone-throwing protesters who clashed with police, according to an Associated Press reporter on the scene. Police responded with gunshots and tear gas. Police and protesters held running battles in the streets of Tunis. Amid the unrest, youths set fire to cars in the embassy parking lot and pillaged businesses nearby.

The state news agency TAP, citing the health ministry, said both of those killed were demonstrators, while the injured included protesters and police. Two of the injured were in critical condition, the health ministry said.

A Tunisian employee of the U.S. Embassy who had an injured leg was taken out on a stretcher to an ambulance. It wasn’t immediately clear if there were any other injuries. Embassy officials did not respond to calls and emails.

The group that breached the U.S. Embassy’s outer wall was eventually pushed back outside by a huge deployment of police and special forces. As night fell, the crowd of protesters outside the embassy dwindled to a handful.

The al-Wataniya 1 television station said the presidential guard also intervened and escorted the U.S. ambassador and about 80 embassy personnel away from the site to safety.

Crowds angry over an anti-Muslim film ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad have assaulted U.S. embassies across the Middle East.

The degree of violence in Tunisia surprised many and raised new questions about the direction of the country, where an uprising last year forced out its longtime president and set off pro-democracy revolts across the Arab world. A once-banned Islamist party came to power in elections last year, but the moderate government has struggled to quell protests by increasingly vocal ultraconservative Muslims known as Salafis.

Reuters reports:

By Tarek Amara

TUNIS, Sept 14 (Reuters) – At least two people were killed and 29 others were wounded on Friday when police fought hundreds of protesters who ransacked the U.S. embassy in Tunisia in their fury over a film denigrating the Prophet Mohammad, state television said.

Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki condemned what he called “an attack against the embassy of a friendly nation”.

Tunisia expects Washington to guarantee around a fifth of the $2.2-2.5 billion its needs to borrow next year to help its economy recover after its revolution last year overthew its veteran leader and triggered the Arab Spring uprisings.

A Reuters reporter saw police open fire to try to quell the assault, in which protesters forced their way past riot police into the embassy.

The protesters smashed windows, hurled petrol bombs and stones at police from inside, and started fires in the embassy and the compound. A black plume of smoke rose from the building.

One protester was seen throwing a computer out of a window, while others walked away with telephones and computers.

A Tunisian security officer near the compound said the embassy had not been staffed on Friday, and calls to the embassy went unanswered. A Reuters reporter saw two armed U.S. soldiers on the roof.

Health Minister Khalil Zaouia told state media at least two people died and 29 were injured, revising down an earlier toll from state television which said three died and 28 had been wounded.

The protesters, many of whom were Islamic Salafists, also set fire to the nearby American School, which was closed at the time, and took away laptops and tablet computers.

The protests began after Friday prayers and followed a rallying call on Facebook by Islamist activists that was quickly endorsed by the local faction of the Islamic militant group Ansar al-Sharia.


An Interior Ministry spokesman said police were hunting Saif-Allah Benahssine, the leader of the Tunisian branch of Ansar al-Sharia to interrogate him about the incidents. Better known under the alias Abu Iyadh, Benahssine is also a prominent figure in Tunisia’s Salafist movement.

Libyan officials suspect the Libyan branch of Ansar al-Sharia of being behind an attack in Benghazi in which four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, were killed on Tuesday.

The moderate Islamist Ennahda movement, which heads the Tunis government, had advised Tunisians against participating in the protest against the crude, low-budget film, made in California and trailed online, which portrayed the Prophet engaged in vulgar and offensive behaviour.

“The (Tunisian) government does not accept these acts of aggression against foreign diplomatic missions,” said a statement read on state television. It said Tunisian authorities were “committed to ensuring the safety of foreign diplomatic missions”.

Hundreds of protesters wielding petrol bombs, stones and sticks had charged at the security forces protecting the embassy before jumping a wall to invade the compound.

“Obama, Obama, we are all Osamas,” they chanted, in reference to the slain al Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden.

The protesters pulled down the U.S. flag flying over the embassy, burned it, and replaced it with a black flag emblazoned with the Shahada, the Islamic declaration of faith.

Riot police finally drove the protesters from the embassy and the compound, and a Reuters reporter saw them arresting around 60.

The compound was cordoned off by police, soldiers and members of the elite presidential guard, but clashes continued in the el-Aouina district across a highway from the smart Auberge du Lac neighbourhood where the embassy is located.

Marzouki, in an address broadcast on state media, said he had spoke to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and condemned the attack as “unacceptable considering its implications on our relations with” Washington.

“This attack is part of a wider plan aimed at stoking hatred between the people,” he said.

September 14, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Africa, ExPat Life, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Tunisia | , , | Leave a comment

How to Tell If Your Relationship is in Trouble

With all the dire international news in focus, let’s focus on our own relationships. 🙂 Found this on CNN News

By Leigh Newman,
updated 9:13 AM EDT, Thu September 13, 2012

( — All marriages have problems: He gives you silent treatment instead of talking when he’s upset; you pay more attention to the kids’ school art projects than to the details of his day; neither of you can agree on the fate of Peggy after leaving Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce on Mad Men. This, you tell yourself, is just what happens after so many years together, right? Or…not right? Because, sure, you’re not fighting, and nobody’s having an affair. But at the same time, what if dangerous issues are brewing? How can you are you supposed to know?

William Doherty, PhD, the Director of the University of Minnesota’s Couples On the Brink project helps more than 60 exceptionally troubled couples a year. In his 35 years of doing this kind of work, he’s noticed a handful of almost imperceptible signs when two people are just beginning to splinter apart. He tells us what to look for—when it comes in your own thoughts and actions—that may signal a crisis to come.

1) You’re Doing a Lot of Cost-Benefit Analyses
Perhaps this is you. While walking home from work, you have a little conversation with yourself: “I make dinner every night, plus, I said sorry when he freaked about organic toothpaste—even though I love organic toothpaste and it’s not too expensive. In fact, now that I think about it, I’m usually the first apologize…and the first to stay home with the kids at night. I work so hard. And what am I getting in return? A hug before bed? The occasional bunch of flowers?”

What you’re doing here is a cost-benefit analysis. Corporations do this all the time. A company that makes, say, skinny jeans, compares the energy, money and time all of its departments put into producing them with the energy, money and time it gets out of selling them, to figure out if it should keep manufacturing pants—in a style that horrifies short, round women all over the world—or just stop.

People also use this technique to make decisions. “At the beginning of the relationship,” says Doherty, “this kind of accounting is natural and appropriate [for couples] deciding whether or not to commit.” But if you’ve already joined your life with someone else, you may not realize that by engaging in this kind of emotional inventory, you’re already seeing yourself as separate from your spouse. Your time, energy and resources are not his time, energy and resources. You’re one business, and he’s another, instead of the two of you being united for the profit of all.

2. You’re Conducting an Imaginary Marriage
Just to clarify, an imaginary marriage is not an imaginary affair, complete with dreams of secret rendezvous in obscure motels. It’s a more subtle and, at times, harder-to-recognize fantasy, says Doherty. What to look for? You sitting at your desk, watching Jeremy from production post yet another blissful photo of his wife and himself on Facebook—this time of their trip to Napa for her birthday. A thought crosses your mind: “Jeremy is so much more considerate than my husband.”
Pretty soon, you make the leap to thinking things like: “If I were married to Jeremy, I’d never spend another of holiday at home watching parades on TV.” In your reveries, you tell yourself you’d go to Paris with him. You’d come home at night to him in the kitchen making veal cordon bleu. The two of you would never argue about the cost of non-generic toilet paper or give each other lectures on how many squares you’re allowed to use. Because, in this relationship, you don’t have to deal with all those pesky details that challenge real-life marriage and that probably also caused you to invent Jeremy, the ideal hubby, with whom no man, not even your good, adorable, non-cordon-bleu-making husband can compare.
You’ve lost interest in you husband taking you to Paris or posting photos of you on Facebook. You’re not ready to leave him in reality, but in the vast and unchecked world of your mind, you’re looking for Mr. Anybody Else.

3. You’re building a second home
In a lot of marriages, there comes a time when you realize, “Hey, my husband isn’t meeting all my needs. And I just have accept that and start taking care of myself.” This can be a healthy decision. Let’s say you love all things literary, and he doesn’t. So you join a book group, and maybe make some friends on Good Reads or Shelfari. Metaphorically speaking, you’ve built yourself a little room in your life and filled it with not just with books but friends who love books. You have all kinds of wonderful conversations there.

Where things get dicey, says Doherty, is when you commit to more and more groups. As you get busier and busier, you build a room for each different activity, then fill that room with new intimates — now, you’ve built a gardening room and a PTA room, as well as a room for your weekly office drinks date. In fact, you have a whole house for your emotional life, and that doesn’t include a room for your spouse.

One way to tell the difference between nurturing your own interests and moving out of your marriage, says Doherty, is to examine how you talk about your activities. If you’re saying, “I’ve got to get my opera fix,” on the way to the opera guild, then you’re talking about your love of opera. But if you’re saying, “I’ve got to do what I want,” then you’re looking for something much larger and more perilous for your relationship.

4. You’re keeping coffee dates secret
After you’ve built the second home, there’s a often tendency to hide what happens there. Let’s say you and your friend—not your crush, not your secret love or your secret passion—from book club have coffee one afternoon. Over coffee, you two talk about the memoir Wild. You bring up your own mother’s death. She brings up her own experimentation with drugs. The two of you share some pretty heavy intimacies. When you come home, your spouse asks what you did today. “I worked,” you say. “And then I picked up the dry cleaning and called that guy about the car.”

The problem is not that you shared an intimacy with somebody else, says Doherty, “but that you edited the event out of the conversation.” In other words, you’re hiding a meaningful exchange from the person you supposedly most trust—and you didn’t give that person the opportunity to have that meaningful exchange with you. Another way to think about it? You took an emotional risk with someone, but you didn’t (or couldn’t or wouldn’t) take the lesser risk of telling your spouse about it.

In all these situations, says Doherty, whether you recognize it or not, you’re beginning to start a new life—as yourself, the individual, and not yourself, the part of a couple. At times, you may be convinced you’re just giving yourself some space or giving your spouse some time to himself. But all that space and time can quickly turn into emotional light years. Thankfully, this distance can also lead to some clarity on whether or not you want to return back to where the two of you started—over thousands of revolutions of the planet that mark the rest of your experiences on earth.

September 14, 2012 Posted by | Family Issues, Mating Behavior, Relationships, Values | Leave a comment