Thursday 18 January 2018

Tunisian beach heroes who braved bullets now face job losses

A hooded Tunisian police officer stands guard
A hooded Tunisian police officer stands guard

Chris Stephen

There will be no medals for the Tunisian beach crews who threw themselves in the way of bullets in the bloody Sousse tourist massacre. In fact, by next week many of them will have no jobs.

In the aftermath of the slaughter of 38 tourists at the Imperial Marhaba hotel have come tales of valour by waiters, lifeguards and men whose normal job is renting out water skis and plastic bananas. These men braved bullets and terror to confront gunman Seifeddine Rezgui.

Their reward, with hotels in the area emptying fast, is likely to be unemployment, in a country already struggling with a depressed economy

When Rezgui struck, just before midday on June 26, hundreds of tourists fled off the beach in terror, while Tunisian staffers ran the other way, to confront him.

Lifeguards dashed to help the wounded, motorboat operators made daring beach rescues, and hotel staff braved bullets to shepherd wounded tourists to safety. The slaughter was terrible, but would have been many times worse without such bravery.

Amid the carnage, the image seared into many minds is of beach workers forming an impromptu human chain stretching down the beach to block the gunman from hundreds of families huddled further down the shore.

The men who formed the chain had no weapons and no training. “We just did it. I bared my breast, I said: ‘OK, shoot me, but you cannot go past’,” said Ibrahim Elghoul, just 18.

“This attack was not to

do with Tunisia, it was to do with wars far away, but we suffer for it,” said Habib Daguib, who operates quad bikes for tourists. (© Observer)

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