OPINION: Tunsia is everything the jihadis hate

The jihadi group Islamic State has claimed responsibility for Wednesday's attack in Tunis.

It left 23 people - 20 of them tourists - dead.

At least 47, including a South African, are hospitalised in Tunis.

The attack was aimed at crippling Tunisia's vital tourism industry that is only now recovering from the effects of the instability following the Arab Spring that began there three years ago.

It has made an immediate impact. At least two cruise lines have taken Tunis off their itinerary following the attack.

It was passengers from two liners who were targeted as they alighted from their coaches to visit the Bardo Museum.

Countering this, there has been a call on social media for people to show solidarity with Tunisia by booking their holidays there this year.

It remains to be seen if idealism will trump trepidation.

President Beji Caid Essebsi has had strong international support for his declaration of war against terrorism.

US President Barak Obama has telephoned him offering condolences and Washington's support in fighting the evil.

Nevertheless, Tunisia with its models of freedoms and democracy has made it a target for Islamist extremists.

It represents everything the jihadis hate.

Tunisian security authorities responded quickly to Wednesday's attack. Since then, they have arrested nine people.

They have identified the two terrorists killed by police clearing the museum. One of them, Yassin Labibi, was on a security watchlist.

That list is substantial, since at least 3,000 young Tunisians have slipped through the security net to join Islamic State fighters in Iraq and Syria.

Those who have returned have adopted totalitarian ideals, telling their compatriots that economic hardship and unemployment is a result of a government more concerned with granting women's rights than pressing hardline Islamist values.

Sandwiched between Algeria and Libya, Tunisians believe that their bastion of freedom is made possible by ever-present and vigilant security forces.

Policemen are posted on every bus and train carriage.

So the applause for the way those forces have reacted since Wednesday, will undoubtedly be replaced with increased public scrutiny.

Jean-Jacques Cornish is an Africa correspondent at Eyewitness News . Follow him on Twitter: @jjcornish