19 March 2012 7:49 pm | | 0


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Tomorrow, March 20, Tunisia will celebrate its Independence Day – the day the country was liberated from its former French colonizer in 1956.

The public holiday commemorates the 56th anniversary of the birth of the Republic of Tunisia. After more than 70 years of colonial rule, a treaty was signed granting the country its independence.

A ceremony has been organized for the occasion, during which Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki will deliver a speech to congratulate the Tunisian people. In his speech, Marzouki will also honor Ali Ben Salem – an anti-colonialist militant who would later speak out against the authoritarian regimes of Habib Bourguiba and Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

However, on the eve of Tunisia’s Independence Day, perspectives are mixed regarding the significance of this holiday in light of the immense change the country has experienced over the course of the past year.

Dalila Kharchoufi, a Tunisian lawyer, hopes for complete independence for Tunisia. “We want real independence, not just from outside colonizers, but also from the inside. We have to learn how to respect people’s ideas,” she said.

For Kharchoufi, it is time to focus on other, more important issues. ”The media needs to let the Tunisian government work, and not focus on trivial issues. We need to free our minds and change our mentalities from the old ideas, we need concrete independence.”

For Moncef Chebbi, Tunisians must understand this day and its importance. “People have to understand how important this day is, and how martyrs sacrificed their lives in order for Tunisians to enjoy their freedom now. This day symbolizes our country’s independence and freedom from any external rule. Last year we gained our freedom from an authoritarian ruler, and we need to maintain that freedom,” he concluded.

Tomorrow will mark Tunisia’s first Independence Day since the formation of the country’s first democratically-elected government.

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