Tunisia: Kasserine Protests Point to Persistent Economic, Social Frustrations

by | Jul 6, 2023 | Economic, Legal, Security, Tunisia


On 5 July 2023, a young man was killed in the town of Sbeitla in Kasserine following an attempt by police to issue an arrest warrant related to an allegedly illegal gambling operation.

During the raid on the site of the gambling operation, police reportedly met resistance from a group of men, leading to a confrontation that included firearms. During the confrontation, the man was killed by gunfire, however, the police reported having not used firearms, indicating that the death may have been caused by a local resident using a hunting rifle.

The incident led to a standoff between police and groups of young men who threw stones and blocked roads around the city of Sbeitla. Confrontations with police continued in the days following the incident.

Sbeitla has a challenging history in the post-revolution period, with multiple instances of deaths during confrontations with police. In 2020, a man was killed during the destruction of an unauthorized kiosk, leading to large-scale protests and violence. In 2021, residents of Sbeitla joined nationwide protests against police repression, leading to police using tear gas to disperse crowds. A teargas canister reportedly hit a man in the head, eventually killing him.

Sbeitla is one of Tunisia’s many outlying towns that suffers in the post-revolution years from economic depression and neglect by state-run enterprises and services.


While the precise series of events that led to the most recent death in Sbeitla remains undetermined, the unrest in the city is a reminder of broader frustrations felt by many Tunisian citizens.

Economic pressure continues to rise on Tunisia’s working and rural poor, with many families struggling to put food on the table as prices rise and the value of the dinar falls. The residents of Sbeitla share a history with other communities of neglect and frustration which, if it remains unaddressed, could lead to more widespread unrest and expressions of frustration by ordinary citizens.

Our team is continuing to watch for indications from Tunisia’s outlying communities that economic and political frustration may lead to actions that impact the wider security environment.


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