Tensions are soaring inside Tunisia’s soccer stadiums. Different groups of supporters for the Club Africain team gathered in the arena’s « Curva Nord » section denounce the arbitrary arrests and police harassment that they have endured of late. The group published a common statement in this vein on the evening of May 15. The situation has spread across the country like wildfire. On May 14, three supporters of the Stade Gabésien team were arrested for having painted a portrait of Omar Laâbidi on a wall in downtown Gabes.

The repression of Ultras is part of the scenery in stadiums, which have become spaces for political expression, pockets of resistance against impunity. Calls to shed light on the death of the young Omar Laâbidi have multiplied, and police are responding with their batons.

Massive arrest campaign

During a press conference held by the Interior Ministry on May 10, General Lotfi Mansour, director of security forces of the Greater Tunis, stated that his department is « committed to the success of sports seasons », and called for a break with the security approach to handling violations and violence.

But recent events have proven contradictory to the official’s statements, as groups of supporters have been the targets of frequent arrests and court trials. Two young Club Africain (CA) supporters accused of attacking a police officer were sentenced to eight months in prison by the court of first instance. No less than 40 supporters for the Bab Jedid team were apprehended by security forces, while 13 others were arrested following the latest hearing in the Omar Laâbidi case on 31 March 2022.

According to Nawaat’s estimations, police have arrested some 60 supporters of different teams. Of this number, three have been detained since the beginning of April. Two supporters were arrested on the basis of the counterterrorism law for having posted photos on Facebook with the slogan « justice, or else chaos ». However, the justice’s counterterrorist division ordered their release, having determined that the case was unrelated to terrorism.