« I’m sick, » Mahrsi smiles. « My hand is sick… Like someone who always needs to smoke, I always need to draw. » Indeed, one of the most impressive things about Mahrsi is his seemingly relentless productivity, the profusion of caricatures, illustrations and projects he has worked on since 2011. In spite of a limited market, a media landscape that thas yet to shake of the habits of censorship, and lack of recognition, Mahrsi has not let down his pen for a moment.
Chahed courts the IMF, Tunisian General Labor Union defiant
On February 25, Youssef Chahed announced the appointment of new heads to several ministries. The UGTT lost not a minute in denouncing what it called a politically-driven and unilateral decision to replace Abid Briki, former UGTT Under Secretary General, with Khalil Ghariani, head of social affairs for the UTICA, as Minister of Public Service. In a statement published on February 26, the UGTT deemed the move a deliberate provocation, and made in the interest of unblocking the second installment of a $2.9 billion loan from the IMF. The conflict, which culminated in Ghariani’s refusal to accept the nomination and the subsequent suspension of the Ministry of Public Service on March 2, is the most recent flare-up in the tenuous relationship between the current government and country’s largest workers union.
What authorities don’t say, cinema does: « Life is short » in Gabes
From the center of Gabes, a 365-degree view of the city offers a stunning panorama of the world’s only seaside oasis, an urban setting scattered with green-grey palm trees, a blue-grey sea, and, jutting up from the main port, the Tunisian Chemical Group’s sky-high factory topped by thick plumes of smoke. It is a grey December morning on the weekend of Gabes’ short-film festival, “Life is short.” Even in the midst of a three-day cultural event animated by film directors, artists, university students, and cinephiles, the unsettling omnipresence of the factory close by inspires the festival’s title with sharp irony.
Status quo, or legal status for artists in Tunisia?
At roundtable events in the presence of EU funders and Tunisians who work in art and culture, the Ministry of Culture affirms that it has moved beyond words and is in the phase of action. With European Union’s recent designation of four million euros to the sector, the question remains whether or not such support will accompany the implementation of new policies, and specifically a framework ensuring the social and economic security of artists in Tunisia.
Quantifying the unquantifiable: religion and politics in North Africa
On May 10, Tunisian polling institution SIGMA Conseil and German foundation Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) presented the results of their survey “Religion and Politics in North Africa.” How accurately do study findings reflect society’s views on issues as elusive and multifaceted as religious and national identity?
Tunisia, US: the greatest threats to national security come from within
Comparing the nature of political discourse and media response in the US and Tunisia following such tragedies reveals key debates that have been stirred up in each country, as well as some fundamental commonalities; namely, failure to face the underlying, internal factors that fuel terrorism.
EU “support” for Tunisia: loans and free trade to remedy terrorism
With each measure of “support” the EU has offered Tunisia—whether in the form of a sizable loan for security reforms, or a free trade agreement for economic growth—particular emphasis has been placed on the recent successes and imperative role of civil society in the country’s path to democracy. But if what Tunisian civil society demands is a shifting of the scales and relations based on reciprocity, is Europe really prepared to listen?
‘Where’s our Oil?’ : the (continued) confusion of politics and resource management in Tunisia
“Winou el pétrole?”—Where is the oil? began to draw the attention of the media since the end of May when citizens hit the street with signs, and has gained considerable visibility since last week when demonstrations in the capital and the south of the country turned into violent confrontations between protesters and security forces. Furthermore, doubts regarding the movement’s beginning as a spontaneous social media campaign and uncertainty about the authenticity of its objectives have stirred controversy and warranted the response of the political figure and government officials.
Strategic vote, non-vote, and the relative victor–Nidaa Tounes
Secularists defeated Islamists is the verdict most commonly reported in international news outlets; Victory and defeat are relative, Tunisian journalists estimate. The politicization of the secularist-Islamist conflict throughout the Ben Ali’s tenure and the increased occurrences of religious violence after the revolution reflect a true conflict that is by no means the defining feature of the country’s democratic transition nor the 2014 elections. The ISIE’s final tally last week represents «a surprising defeat for the Islamist Nahda party» only for those who do not read beyond the titles of foreign news reports that refrain from examining the intricacies of and history behind party politics over the past four years.