Television stations have traditionally reserved the majority of airtime for entertainment shows during the holy month of Ramadan. This seasonal exception is, however, becoming the rule throughout the entire year, as stations continue to shed their political programming. Not only are Tunisians overcome by « news fatigue », but also apolitical shows are far more conducive to product placement.
In Tunis, many practice the fast during Ramadan, abstaining from food and drink from sunup to sundown, just as many do not. At any time of day, you can find the latter crowded into the smoky refuge of one of the cafés and restaurants that continue to serve throughout the day, recognizable by their shutters partially pulled down over doorways or faded newspapers pasted across window fronts, discreet signals to non-fasting passers-by that inside, it’s business as usual. But this activity remains susceptible to police harassment justified by Interior Minister Lotfi Brahem, dismissed on June 5 after being vehemently criticized by NGOs.
Ramadan this year began on Sunday, June 29 and articles are rife with discouraging statistics on the inflation and warnings against over-consumption and waste of foodstuffs purchased in over-abundance. With food, water, electricity, and gas prices already on the rise, the expenses associated with the holy month of fasting compound what is an already unbearable economic burden for many Tunisians.