Opinions in English

Articles published under the Opinions section reflect the view and opinions of the author, but not necessarily that of Nawaat.



Opinions


14 May 2021

The tragic murder of a young woman by her husband has exposed the devastating failures of the authorities to protect Tunisian women from domestic violence. On 9 May, Tunisian Facebook timelines were suddenly flooded with a grim black image, bearing the words: “Her name is Refka Cherni.”


11 May 2021

Over last three weeks, I have been telling everyone around me that my parents in India have Covid, that they had Covid, that they continue to cough or have intense body pain. I tell them about my fears that my parents might suddenly need to go to a hospital, that there are no hospitals with vacant beds, that there are no oxygen cylinders left to keep us breathing when Covid chokes us. I tell this to distant faces I see over Zoom, to folks I run into on the streets in Tunis. Every time I am confronted with the same response: remarks about the pictures of cremations, the images of fire eating away the bodies of the dead, followed by a look of pity that I am forced to accept.


10 May 2021

One of the most beautiful lines ever spat in hip-hop comes from a song called « Last Supper » by D Smoke, in which he says “every kid needs a hero, I’m trying to be uncle Stan Lee.” In this context, Stan Lee represents the idea that no matter where you come from, you can make it if you put your mind to it, even when you live in a small hood in the capital of one of the tiniest countries in the world.


26 April 2021

When the Tunisian Republic was proclaimed on 25 July 1957, with Habib Bourguiba elected its first constituent president, long before the adoption of the constitution in 1959, the intention and spirit of the leaders were to give birth to a republican political system conferring the mandate of the head of state to the “Supreme Combatant” who had become the near-exclusive holder of power in the country. The First Republic rose up against the monarchy, and would henceforth be the regime of the new independent state. However, the people who had, according to Bourguiba, “reached a sufficient degree of maturity to assume the management of their own affairs” would first have to be guided in their choices by their zaïm-turned-raïs; liberator of the country and father of the nation. Democracy would have to wait.


09 February 2021

“There is no government, there is no state, we are the state”. These chilling words by a police officer, during a sit-in in the city of Sfax on 2 February, speak volumes about the dangerous turn of events in Tunisia in recent weeks. The latest unrest heightens risks of a return to a police state following years of shaky democratic transition which has failed to end abuses by security services and their rampant impunity for human rights violations.


30 December 2020

Gilbert Naccache, who passed away on December 26, 2020 at the age of 81, was the nexus of multiple stakes and causes which marked Tunisia since the early 1960s. He may have been the last in a line of a particular breed of public intellectuals: Jews of the Arab lands who rejected the Israeli birthright, which is steeped in sectarianism, colonialism and dispossession, and who claimed the right to belong fully to the lands of their birth. As a wave of “normalisation” with Israel sweeps across the Arab world, his positions are sobering. With Arab politics and society turning to the right, it behoves us to reflect on a life spent on the Left and in opposition to dictatorship and sectarianism. And as we reflect on the tenth anniversary of the Tunisian revolution and the rebellious wave it engendered across the region, we have a duty to remember one of those who paved the way. Along with this, and not to be underestimated, we need to recall Gilbert Naccache the writer.


08 December 2020

On October 6, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists in Tunisia raised their voices and banners in the street, amid the hundreds of demonstrators who were peacefully protesting a draft law that would drastically limit criminal accountability for the use of force by the security forces. By a cruel irony, police attacked the demonstrators, including LGBT activists, and arbitrarily arrested them.


20 October 2020

In the early hours before dawn on Tuesday, October 12th, the municipal police of Sbeitla (governorate of Kasserine) bulldozed an illegally built kiosk where a cigarette vendor was sleeping. Kasserine remains one of the most underprivileged regions in Tunisia. During the demolition, the roof collapsed on the victim’s body, leading to his tragic death and sparking protests in the region.


16 October 2020

I do not engage men in conversations on gender equality, especially cis, straight men. The last time I did, I was called a ‘feminazi’ for shaming a man who unabashedly invalidated a woman’s feelings toward her own menstruation. I did not understand how a man could draw such far-fetched conclusions without even having a vagina, let alone bleeding from it. Moreover, what would entitle him to invalidate her experiences and opinions?


25 June 2020

Since 2014, the Transitional Justice process led by Tunisia’s Truth and Dignity Commission (Instance Vérité et Dignité, IVD) has been anything but steady. After a mandate of nearly five tumultuous years, the IVD completed its task in 2019 with the referral to court of at least 173 cases of serious human rights violations and corruption. It also published a comprehensive report including its findings and recommendations. Today, the report was finally published in the Official Gazette as required by Transitional Justice Law.


09 June 2020

Almost ten years after the Revolution took place, however, the new political scene that has since emerged in Tunisia is creating social friction and a division amongst Tunisians. This article attempts to provide an analysis of this prevalent social friction based on the theory of group polarization, while shedding a special light on the current political events that are shaping Tunisian domestic affairs.


15 April 2020

Suddenly my hands were red. Thick, glass shards—which moments earlier had been a smooth bowl—lay scattered across the tabletop. Small pools of blood followed me like shadows on the kitchen floor before my wife reached me with a towel and instructions to apply pressure. As she gathered car keys, my spinning head brought me to the floor. Seated there, queasy and cold, two strangers—architects my wife had been meeting—helped me wearshoes. They closed the door behind us as we sped to the hospital.