There will be no fiscal revolution for Tunisia in 2022 as many might have once hoped. The country’s new finance law remains loyal to the same business model under which physical persons, including the most disenfranchised segments of the population, contribute a significantly larger portion to tax revenues than do businesses.
Innawaation is a creative media projects incubator structured around a series of residencies and events. These collaborations will take place during sessions that span 3 to 6 months of work.
Over several days in late November 2012, police used birdshot against protesters in Siliana, injuring hundreds of people including demonstrators, journalists covering the demonstration, and bystanders, according to an Amnesty International report at the time. One investigative report by civil society put the number of injured at 178, and at least 20 people lost eyes or sustained severe damage to their eyes. Now, a decade later, these people are still calling on authorities to cover their healthcare costs, extend their social benefits, and hold the officials responsible for the use of birdshot accountable.
This year’s annual Tunis International Book Fair—the 36th edition and held at the Kram exhibition center from November 11 to 21—was eagerly anticipated since last year’s fair was cancelled due to Covid-19 restrictions. However, the event was marred by some of the practices and symbolism reminiscent of the authoritarian Ben Ali regime.
On October 15, 2021, I was stopped at the Tunis airport and denied entry into Tunisia on the basis of the same piece of paper that the police in Bab Souika guaranteed as allowing me the liberty to enter and exit Tunisia – a carte de séjour provisoire [provisional residency card]. It had been a year since I had submitted my file demanding a carte de séjour; as an Indian citizen who needs a visa to enter Tunisia, I had hoped that this card would make my research in and on Tunisia easier.
On Saturday, October 30, around 30 people in downtown Tunis protested the President’s new decree mandating vaccination passes for all public spaces. It’s one of several small protests that have occurred around the issue in both Tunis and other cities.
In recent years, there has been increasing tension around the use of haphazard landfills as residents nearby these toxic sites protest the serious short and long-term hazards they face.
In another world, Mohamed Gabsi would have studied technology and probably specialized in computer science. Instead, because of the limited access to study material accessible to disabled people like himself in his preferred field, he enrolled in the Faculty of Letters of Sousse. “I am a French graduate, technophile and blind,”the young man likes to introduce himself—both in everyday life and during his activities as a disability justice activist.
As Tunisia’s biggest annual film festival, the Carthage Cinema Days (JCC) kicked off on Sunday, October 30, the traditionally desperate search for tickets began. But one group of people received their own private film screening: about 150 prisoners from the Oudhna Civil Prison, including 30 female prisoners who were brought in from the Manouba Women’s Prison facility.
New political groupings, parties, and movements have launched or gained prominence in the wake of President Kais Saied’s decision on July 25 to suspend Parliament, dismiss the previous government, and concentrate powers under the presidency. Meshkal/Nawaat spoke with members or representatives of several of these groups shortly after July 25; they said that the president’s decisions created a new political environment with new conditions ripe for making the changes they want to see. All of them strongly criticized or denounced the political system ante July 25 as undemocratic.
One of the largest environmental protests Tunis has ever seen occurred on Sunday, September 12 when thousands of residents of the southern coastal suburbs formed separate human chains on their beaches in the neighborhoods of Ezzahra, Hammam Lif, Rades, Hammam Chatt and BorjCedria. They demonstrated against the daily sewage flow in their beaches where thousands swim every summer.
The assassinations of politicians Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi in 2013 left many unanswered questions and suspicions. In both cases, authorities didn’t immediately explain who the suspected assassins were, and they never clearly detailed to the public the assassins’ potential motives, planning, resources, or organizational support.
I was on my treadmill exercising and watching Nicki Minaj “killing it” in one of her concerts when I saw a notification on my Facebook stating that Tunisian President Kais Saied had just nominated Ms. Najla Bouden as the new Head of Government. This would make her the first to hold such a high position in Tunisia as well as the first in the Arab world. I was excited for only a few seconds. As a Tunisian woman and a feminist who founded the association “Aswat Nisaa” to enhance women’s political participation and advocate for gender sensitive public policies, this should have been a celebratory moment! But it wasn’t for me. Why—I asked myself—am I being a joy-killer here? Am I being a “bad feminist ”?
Judiciary officials are under fire from President Kais Saied. Saied does not mince his words when it comes to the country’s magistrates, reproaching them for complicity with all kinds of corrupt individuals. Accused of promoting impunity, magistrates have defended themselves by pointing to political interference in their domain. It’s open war on a battlefield where needed reforms have been blocked.
On Sunday, September 26, thousands of people, close to Ennahdha party and its allies, demonstrated in downtown Tunis against President Kais Saied and his latest decision extending his exceptional powers and suspending parts of the constitution. Thousands assembled in front of the National Theater on Habib Bourguiba Avenue from about 10:00 until 16:00 to denounce the recent decisions, which they consider illegitimate, calling it a “coup” and a step back towards dictatorship.
On September 1, police violently dispersed a peaceful demonstration in downtown Tunis, punching, shoving, and using pepper spray against demonstrators as well as journalists who were there covering the event. Aside from some incidents in front of Parliament on July 26, Wednesday’s police repression was the first documented use of police violence against peaceful demonstrators since President Kais Saied suspended parliament and dismissed the government on July 25.
Since the president’s sweeping decisions announced on July 25, Ennahdha member Radwan Masmoudi has waged a media war against Kais Saied. A controversial figure, Masmoudi has long juggled between his activities in civil society and in politics. And this is not the first time that his statements have elicited so much controversy and raised questions about his connections both within and outside of Tunisia.
Late last June, when it was the region hardest hit by Covid-19, Meshkal/Nawaat went to Kairouan. The tragic situation there foreshadowed what the rest of the nation has since been living through: a sharp spike in cases made much worse by a lack of basic State services, personnel, and supplies. Without enough doctors, ambulances, vaccines or vaccination teams, protective gear or nurses, many in Kairouan faced their spike by relying on family for care, exacerbating the spread of the virus. Meanwhile, medical personnel themselves were unable to get vaccines and many worked without receiving salaries promised in their contracts.