Twenty foreign tourists including one Britain and two police officers were killed when gunmen opened fire at a crowd waiting to enter a popular museum in the Tunisian capital Tunis. Local police say Italian, Spanish, Polish and German citizens were among those dead, as well as Tunisian locals. 22 tourists and two Tunisians were also injured in the attack. The attack happened at the Bardo Museum known for their Roman mosaics and ancient Roman artefacts. The gunmen then rampaged into the museum taking several hostages.
At the time of the attacks anti-terrorism legislation was being discussed in the Parliamentary buildings next to the museum. Parliament was evacuated following the attack. Prime Minister Habib Essid said; ‘Military forces killed two gunmen at the scene and were looking for up to four accomplices’. “It is a critical moment in our history, and a defining moment for our future,” he said. “We have not established the identity of the two terrorists,” he said, adding: “Reports are not final, these two terrorists could have been assisted by two or three other operatives.” Security operations were “still underway”, with forces “continuing to comb the area to find out the remaining operatives, if any”. The remaining hostages held at the museum have now been freed, an unnamed government official announced.
The museum’s policy consists of preserving heritage, but also in trying to enrich and spread it within the framework of a cultural policy that is fair and adapted to the needs and demands. The museal institution’s mission has always been to preserve collections subject to public interest within a public service, or at least public utility, mission. The main objective is to ensure accessibility for the larger public and the equal access of everybody to education and culture. As A. Malraux put it in his The Imaginary Museum (Le Musée Imaginaire), “the role of museums in our relationship with the works of art is so important that we hardly think that it does not exist; that it has never existed.”
The Bardo Museum is a national museum which is the first in the country to exist for more than a century, is to make of it a major pole for a high quality cultural development. With the expansion of its premises, the redeployment of its collections and didactic exposure the visitor will be able to better appreciate, understand, and finally appropriate the exposed pieces of art to himself regardless of his intellectual level or age.