Municipal authorities demolished the surroundings of several cafes and buildings in a Tunis neighborhood Monday night, continuing the government’s purge of unauthorized constructions in the Tunis area.
Bulldozers rolled up to the neighborhood of Lac 2 late Monday night, partially destroying more than sixteen Cafes that the government ruled were either illegally built or in violation of building or safety codes. Many of the cafes in question had terraces that reportedly encroached on city pavement.
The demolitions came a week after owners had been warned by local authorities, according to reports.
A video of the incident circulating on social media documents bystanders shouting at municipal authorities during the demolition.
“Why are you doing this to us?” asked one woman, visibly distraught by the incident.
Others on social media, however, voiced support for the government’s action.
“Cheers for the municipality of Goulette!” said journalist Amin Bouneoues on Facebook, apparently referencing the demolition. “We are waiting for you in Al Aouina”
According to deputy mayor of the special delegation of La Goulette Ikbel Boutaba, the demolitions occurred after building owners repeatedly rebuffed government warnings to abide by building regulations.
Monday’s demolitions come as part of a larger government plan to reclaim lost territory and “preserve the property of the national community.”
Last week the state seized 3.5 acres of land in Ariana’s Mnihla region, where it claims citizens had been illegally constructing property for years.
Controversy erupted last month when state officials demolished up to thirty unfinished properties in Ariana’s “Hay mostakbel” neighborhood, in an attempt to clear out a community it ruled had been residing on the land illegally.
While Ariana governor Saloua Khiari claimed the properties belonged to the state, and that demolitions had taken place after a period of careful negotiations, local residents in Ariana painted a very different picture. Interviewed by Tunisia Live at the site, residents claimed to have been living on the land for decades. Some even produced what appeared to be official land deeds to support their claim to the land. According to residents, the Trabelsi family–widely suspected of corruption and state theft in Tunisia–facilitated a government seizure of the land in 2010.
Rahma is preparing a master thesis in Anglo-American studies. She is interested in politics and foreign affairs. Since the outbreak of the Tunisian revolution, she volunteered for several Tunisian associations such as ATIDE, Sawty and others. She writes articles about post-revolution Tunisia.