Tunis to restore abandoned Christian cemetery


Tunisian authorities are to restore a Christian cemetery which has been abandoned since the 2011 revolution and become a target of tomb-raiders, officials said on Monday.

The governorate of Greater Tunis said it had been alerted last week of the state of decline of Carthage Byrsa cemetery in a northern suburb of the capital.

Omar Mansour, the governor, had visited and seen that around 20 tombs had been opened and a part of the cemetery wall destroyed. He has ordered measures to protect the cemetery, for the ransacked tombs to be repaired and for a new guard to be recruited, local official Houcem Ben Sghaier told journalists.

"The last burial was in 1999. Since the 2011 revolution, it has been left without maintenance and without supervision, allowing people to go in and open tombs," he said.

Samia Jendoubi, who lives near the cemetery and whose grandfather used to guard the site, spoke of frequent intruders.

"People come to drink (alcohol) here. Sometimes we hear noises and when we come out to look, they clamber over the walls and run away," she said.

With insecurity on the rise since the revolution, both Christian and Muslim cemeteries have been targeted by looters.

Predominantly Muslim, Tunisia, a French protectorate from 1886 to 1956, has Christian cemeteries dotted around the country, mostly of graves of former colonialists.    (AFP)

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