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La République Islaïque de Tunisie
June 14, 2012 4:54 PM   Subscribe

This week's riots (WaPo) in Tunisia started last Saturday, when a mob of hardline Salafists, after trying to disrupt an art exhibition deemed offensive to Islam, were booed off ("dégage!") by the crowd. They came back a few hours later to destroy the works: here are the artworks, before and after the attack at the Abdellia Palace in La Marsa, Tunis.
posted by elgilito (27 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
I really liked the one of the bearded guy with smoke coming out his ears.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:11 PM on June 14, 2012


Me too. There were quite a few works there that were pretty excellent.

C'est pas de mal...
posted by Skygazer at 5:17 PM on June 14, 2012


Looks like a great exhibit. As far as I can tell from the story they only cut a painted canvas and graffito on the outside walls. Was this really a mob action?
posted by parmanparman at 5:20 PM on June 14, 2012


Fucking fundies
posted by growabrain at 5:24 PM on June 14, 2012 [9 favorites]


The punishment for religious extremists destroying art (or anything) because of their extremist beliefs should be death. Preferably by stoning.

Hey, wait a second.
posted by loquacious at 5:43 PM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


To paraphrase Bob Crane, that's what's terrible with this culture war. Everyone's an art critic.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:45 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just had an idea: Someone in a heavily Islamic part of the world should create a work of art really offensive to Islam, like those Danish guys did, and when a bunch of these Stone Age fascists gather to protest/try to destroy it...someone remotely detonates a bomb, right in the middle of the crowd.

Now, I have no illusions that such an act would accomplish much, and it might even aggravate these human killer bees even more, but gosh the irony would just be irresistible wouldn't it?

Seriously though, how do you deal with a problem like this? Appeasement hasn't worked, nor will it ever. At a certain point you can try to talk to your cancer cells and get them to change their minds, or you start chemo.
posted by MattMangels at 5:45 PM on June 14, 2012


I just had an idea: Someone in a heavily Islamic part of the world should create a work of art really offensive to Islam, like those Danish guys did, and when a bunch of these Stone Age fascists gather to protest/try to destroy it...someone remotely detonates a bomb, right in the middle of the crowd.

Yes, I'm sure that would have no repercussions whatsoever.
posted by mykescipark at 5:54 PM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


You don't escalate. Obama's been doing that in the Middle East and Central Asia and it's a wonder they haven't responded a thousandfold yet.

You don't appease. You be yourself. You don't stop. You organize. You have art showings again and again and again. You communicate with others and build your base. You paint caricatures of your opponents showing them to be exactly what they are, red-faced bearded buffoons with steam coming out their ears.
posted by dunkadunc at 5:55 PM on June 14, 2012 [14 favorites]


Ah, that warmed my heart.

Thanks for posting it!
posted by jason's_planet at 6:02 PM on June 14, 2012


graffiti: "Avec l'autorisation du ministre de la culture, le prophète est humilié". this is what pisses me off - weakness and resentment transformed into a way of life and a political platform. exactly the same as US fundies - *any* retribution and repression is justified when your g-d is as humiliated and ashamed as you are. have some dignity!
posted by facetious at 6:06 PM on June 14, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm well aware my comment sounded like run-of-the-mill "Internet Tough Guy" rhetoric, but I'm just so fed up day after day seeing stuff like this, watching the progress humanity's made being reversed by religion. It's damn frustrating. It seems to me that these people cannot be reasoned with, and therefore if we are going to have any kind of society worth living in then they are going to have to stop trying to control everyone else or be destroyed. I think I'm going to start using the cancer metaphor more.
posted by MattMangels at 6:07 PM on June 14, 2012


Seriously though, how do you deal with a problem like this?

This isn't a super-special pearl-clutching problem. At its root, it's just crime. Generally, we've had pretty good luck fighting this stuff in civilized societies with police, courts, and various forms of punishment, including jail time.

The thing that will ultimately ruin their government is if they try to go all police-statey and militaristic on their citizens. They need to go slow, be very careful, and be certain beyond a reasonable doubt that they are punishing only the guilty.

It can take a really long time, and it's easy for the police to get evil, making the problems worse. See: the Irish insurgency. It is extremely difficult for societies to keep focus on this kind of a long-term project, without slipping into barbarism, making the 'good' and the 'evil' sides indistinguishable. These are evil people, and if you become evil to fight them, then they win by losing.

Justice is hard. Justice in the face of this kind of aggression is especially hard. But if you want a long-term, genuine solution for terrorism, that's it.
posted by Malor at 6:11 PM on June 14, 2012 [15 favorites]


I agree with Malor. Granted, the situation facing governments like Tunisia and Egypt is particularly tenuous as they lack a longstanding secular state that respects civil rights while also having experience prosecuting extremist violence (as opposed to experience persecuting dissidents as in Egypt's recent history).

People, no matter how dangerous or even deadly their actions, can't be compared to cancer cells to be destroyed. Such comparisons engage in the same kind of dehumanizing thought that authorizes theocrats to execute those they deem a danger to their preferred form of government.
posted by audi alteram partem at 6:22 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


So what I'm seeing in this article is that a lot of the traction that the fundies have here is because the old secular regime was so corrupt and terrible - people who have a lot of emotional energy and a lot of anger about the secular regime are probably getting caught up in active fundie-ness. Extreme times breed extremity - people who would, in times of peace and stability, stay at home grumbling, they get afraid and angry and they go out on the streets and break things. At any given time, the number of people who want to go out and break shit for its own sake is actually pretty low. Most people prefer to talk big and blow off steam that way.

So the smart thing to do would be to prosecute the damages as vandalism, hand down some minor sentences; let the fundies march when they want to and keep a lid on the cops except if there is breakage or harm to individuals; act with justice and magnanimity and the thing will burn itself out because most people who are involved will simmer down. But of course, any government prefers to respond with violence, injustice and escalation (with the possible exceptions of the Scandinavians, who seem to be able to keep cool heads) because in general the issue isn't "nice government versus bad fundies", it's "stupid, greedy asshole government looking for an excuse to expand its powers versus bad fundies".

You don't need to get rid of the fundies - that's the kind of task you can only achieve through aggressive tyranny. You just need to remove their support by winning over the people who are not themselves aggressively fundamentalist but who get drawn in through fear, loneliness, boredom, anger at the government, poverty...
posted by Frowner at 6:24 PM on June 14, 2012 [10 favorites]


To paraphrase Bob Crane, that's what's terrible with this culture war. Everyone's an art critic.

The Hogan's Heroes guy?
posted by jonmc at 6:49 PM on June 14, 2012


> a bunch of these Stone Age fascists gather to protest/try to destroy it...someone remotely detonates a bomb, right in the middle of the crowd.

destroying something is not the same as protesting something.

and really, blow up people protesting? Where are you? Syria?
posted by mulligan at 6:51 PM on June 14, 2012


Well in their defense the art market is terrible in Tunisia right now so they have to do something about auction prices.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:32 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


You can't fight fundamentalists on shit like this. It's like mud-wrestling a pig-- the pig likes it more than you do. (Same for arguing with Internet trolls, Bill O'Reilly, etc etc.) The fundamentalists aren't the problem; fundamentalISM is. Religion is, to but it more bluntly. People aren't flexible in arenas where facts/truth have no place. What's preventing peace in Palestine isn't the Jews or the Palestinians: it's a couple of thousand-plus-year-old books (and the elites who use them to stay in power).
posted by supercres at 7:49 PM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Now, I have no illusions that such an act would accomplish much, and it might even aggravate these human killer bees even more, but gosh the irony would just be irresistible wouldn't it?

This is no time for performance art; this is a crisis, dammit!
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:52 PM on June 14, 2012


[Violent revenge fantasies/wishing death on people, etc. = totally not okay here, and we routinely delete this sort of thing, so absolutely no more of that, please. Once again, this is not YouTube.]
posted by taz at 10:04 PM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


...so fed up day after day seeing stuff like this, watching the progress humanity's made being reversed by religion


-- In the US
posted by mattoxic at 10:24 PM on June 14, 2012


Cancer is an awful metaphor. Extremism is a communicable disease that doesn't give a shit if you're a theist or if you read /r/atheism everyday.

MattMangels, you need to check yourself, because you are a carrier of this disease.

Lucikly, it's curable. Turn off the computer, go for a walk, call a friend who has different beliefs than you and ask them to coffee and have a good time. If you don't have a friend like that, go volunteer somewhere and add some actual good to this world instead of spreading the disease. Spend some time meditating or practicing some other mindfulness activities.
posted by Skwirl at 6:31 AM on June 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


The pink camouflage piece is spectacular. I really liked that one. Hope it survived.
posted by caution live frogs at 8:16 AM on June 15, 2012


What's preventing peace in Palestine isn't the Jews or the Palestinians: it's a couple of thousand-plus-year-old books (and the elites who use them to stay in power).
posted by supercres at 7:49 PM on June 14 [2 favorites +] [!]

Actually, religion is not really at the core of that conflict. It's essentially nationalistic on both sides and the secular folks are as much a part of the problem as the religious fanatics. The local Jewish and Muslim communities in Israel/Palestine coexisted with each other as well as they did anywhere else until Zionists and Arab Nationalists started competing for the same piece of the collapsing Ottoman pie in the late 19th Century.
posted by snottydick at 2:31 PM on June 15, 2012


But without the thousand-year old books and long-dead mental cases, they'd just be two groups of assholes arguing over the same strip of desert. It's religion that makes each think that they DESERVE it, which makes it total war, no end in sight, no holds barred. If it weren't the holy land, at some point a militarily defeated people cede control and integrate. The religion makes them say, "No, it's not enough that I control this land with my tanks or whatever [like most places on earth]-- I have to keep people who don't worship my imaginary friend in the same way as me from being here too."
posted by supercres at 5:49 PM on June 15, 2012


But without the thousand-year old books and long-dead mental cases, they'd just be two groups of assholes arguing over the same strip of desert. It's religion that makes each think that they DESERVE it, which makes it total war, no end in sight, no holds barred. If it weren't the holy land, at some point a militarily defeated people cede control and integrate. The religion makes them say, "No, it's not enough that I control this land with my tanks or whatever [like most places on earth]-- I have to keep people who don't worship my imaginary friend in the same way as me from being here too."

That's not the situation in Palestine/Israel. On neither side is there a political consensus for cleansing the land of the non-believer and neither side is strictly defined by any one religion. Incidentally, they're also not really fighting over the desert. They're fighting over the perfectly fertile agricultural land in the other 40% of the territory.

While Israel is defined as a "Jewish" state, that definition is basically nationalistic and has always incorporated people who are ethnically Jewish and not practitioners of Judaism in any sense of the word. Israel also has Christian, Muslim, Druze, Bahai, and Samaritan citizens and elected officials. Hell, there are even Muslim Zionists. The society is multi-ethnic and multi-confessional, even if the government doesn't always act as if that were the case.

There are also Muslim, Christian, Marxist-Athiest, and (whether Israel wishes to acknowledge it or not) even Jewish Palestinians. Hamas does not enjoy broad appeal because of their religious fanaticism. It's the fact that they can deliver social services while defying Israel in dramatic and headline-grabbing ways.

Neither side is perfect on the subject of equal rights for religious minorities, but only a small fringe on either side wants to evict religious minorities. They usually just want what they see as their nation (definitions vary greatly amongst individulas) to dominate this particular strip of land.

Also, the historical record is rife with people who were and are far more thoroughly defeated in a military sense than the Palestinians, with varying degrees of religiosity, who chose and are choosing not to acknowledge control or integrate permanently and who maintained or are maintaining some form of resistance for much longer than the Palestinians have in the occupied territories. See also: Ireland, Tibet, Poland, the Balkans, the Indian subcontinent and the entire continent of Africa.
posted by snottydick at 8:26 AM on June 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


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