Potentially tactless comments from President Essebsi encapsulated what has been described as a disorganized and confusing tribute ceremony for the victims of the 2015 Bardo attack, which claimed the lives of 22 civilians in March 2015, mostly European tourists.
Survivors of the attack and the victims’ families were invited to meet Tunisian president Beji Caid Essebsi during a tribute ceremony in Carthage last Friday. However, many attendees later expressed surprise over the attitude shown by Tunisia’s 89 year old leader, who reportedly greeted Anne-Sophie Tinois, a French woman who lost her father in the attack, with the phrase, “C’est la vie.” (French for “such is life.”)
A spokesperson for the president’s office was unable to be reached before the time of publication.
Apart from the President’s comments, Tinois and others expressed frustration with what they described as a lack of organization and preparedness by the event’s organizers.
“It is a bit complicated,” Tinois said to Le Parisien during the event. “There’s no organization, we’re wandering from one place to the other. They promised us we’ll meet the president to have some time with him, which was not the case at all. He shook our hands, he told us death is part of life.”
Friday’s event had already come under fire after six French survivors declined the president’s invitation to appear, slamming the event as a piece of political theater intended to distract from the failures of Tunisia’s justice system after they had botched the investigation into last year’s attack. Last August, six of those suspected of involvement in the attack were released after it was ruled that their testimonies had been obtained through torture.
Government officials faced further criticism for firing divisional commissioner of the district of Bardo Hatem Kharbouc, who was dismissed from his position following the attack after he claimed to have requested additional security days before the assault.