Two members of Tunisia’s Constituent Assembly (CA) saw their legal immunity suspended this morning, with the Assembly voting during a closed session that they would need to stand trial.
The two CA members are Moncef Cheikhrouhou and Khemais Kssila, representatives of, respectively, the opposition Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) and the Ettakatol party, which is part of the governing coalition with the center-left Congress for the Republic (CPR) and the moderate Islamist party Ennahda.
Kssila’s case concerns his involvement in a recent car accident. Kssila had claimed that he was not the driver when the accident occurred. However his friend, who was with him in the car, claimed the opposite when interrogated by the police. As a result, the prosecutor presented a request to the Constituent Assembly calling for stripping Kssila of his legislative immunity until the trial is finished.
Cheikhrouhou has been charged in a case concerning his dealings with a banking institution. According to Salma Baccar, a deputy for the PDM party, Cheikhrouhou himself asked the Constituent Assembly to strip him of his legislative immunity as his case is currently in appeal.
During todayâ€™s closed session, the political parties PDM, PDP, Ettakatol, CPR and the Popular Petition asked the head of the Constituent Assembly to postpone a decision regarding the immunity of the two representatives.
However, Ennahda was determined to address the issue, leading the head of the Assembly to call for a general vote. The vote resulted in the lifting of legislative immunity for the two members. Their immunity can be restored when the trials are finished.
One of the released rebels of Zuwara
Twenty-two rebels, who were abducted on Saturday, March 31, 2012 by armed men in the region near the Tunisian-Libyan border, were released this Sunday, April 1.
The rebels are from the northwestern Libyan town of Zuwara. They were on a Libyan Ministry of Defense patrol mission to prevent smuggling, 60 kilometers south of Ras Jedir, along the Tunisian-Libyan border, when a convoy of 40 cars and armed men stopped and held them, according to a Ras Jedir High Security Committee Officer, Walid Ftiss. They left the town of Nalut and were heading to the town of Zuwara. According to the Zuwara Media Center, a state of emergency was declared in the town of Zuwara.
The rebel group, who controls the Ras Jedir border crossing, closed the border on Saturday, March, 31stÂ 2012 to protest the abduction of their colleagues and to put pressure on the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) to release the abducted men. Â The border crossing reopened early this morning, Monday April 2, and traffic resumed.
The Zuwara Local Council issued a statement on Saturday, March 31st, 2012 in which it held the Libyan NTC responsible for the well-being of the held rebels. On Sunday, April, 1st, 2012, the men were released after negotiations with the armed group, but the latter kept their weapons, according to the Council. The released rebels also complained about their mistreatment by the armed group.
Ras Jedir border crossing
Zuwara joined the Libyan Revolution in the beginning of February 2011. Neighboring towns were reluctant to join the rebels in their fight againstÂ former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
There have been skirmishes ever since between Zuwara rebels and locals from the towns, including armed men from neighboring towns of Jemil and Regdaline.Â Tensions grew after the death of Gaddafi in October 2011. Skirmishes often took place in the vicinity of Ras Jedir border crossing between Tunisia and Libya.
The Zuwara rebels have been controlling the Ras Jedir border crossing since December 2011. They were trained by the NTCâ€™s Ministry of Interior to watch over the border crossing and insure its security. The Zuwara rebels often complained about smuggling going on in the border areas between Tunisia and Libya and of being harassed by some armed men in the neighboring towns.
Meanwhile, Faouzi Abel Aal, the NTC Minister of Interior stated that the number of rebels that have been enrolled in the ministry now numbers around 50,000. The Ministry of Interior is training them in different areas such as security, fighting terrorism and anti-rioting. French security units are assisting the new Libyan security and police forces, according to Libya Al Ahrar TV.
Social Democratic Path, a new party which brings together Ettajdid movement, independents from Democratic Modernist Pole and Tunisian Labor Party
In the wake of the wave of mergers among Tunisian political parties, a new party named the Social Democratic Path (SDP) was created yesterday bringing together Ettajdid Party, the Tunisian Labor Party (TLP) and independents from the Democratic Modernist Pole (PDM).
The Tunisian Press Agency TAP reported that the national leadership of the newly created party includes National Constituent Assembly members Ahmed Brahim and Samir Battaib as president and official spokesperson respectively. The position of the executive Secreatary General was ceded to the independent figure from the PDM, Riadh Ben Fadhl.
â€œThis new initiative aims at unifying the democratic centrist forces,â€ stated Abd Jalil Bedoui, formerly spokesperson of the Tunisian Labor Party and currently the vice president of the Social Democratic Path (SDP).
Â â€œThis idea was prompted by the results of last Octoberâ€™s election which proved that the Tunisian political scene suffers from a deep discrepancy, the centrist parties and independents list could have done betterâ€ said Bedoui.
â€œThe discussions that involved six centrist parties started right after the election – we were six political parties. Afek Tounes, the Republican Party and the Progressive Democratic Party came together under the umbrella of PDP and here we are now forming this new party,â€ he explained.
The opinions of the parties diverged over one point which is whether they should create a new party with a new leadership or whether they should go under one of the parties.
Bedoui stated that this initiative is open and wide-ranging. â€œThis is only a prelude to a bigger inclusive party. We will not exclude any centrist tendency,â€ he asserted.
Bedoui announced that the discussions are still ongoing with the PDP and that a new party that will unify the major centrist parties will come into light by next May.
On Sunday, April 1st, Tunisian Foreign Affairs Minister, Rafik Abedsalem called on the Syrian government to open humanitarian corridors to speed up aid to Syrians in order to ease their suffering,Â during the second meeting of “Friends of Syria,” held in Istanbul.
Abdessalem announced that he was renewing the Tunisian government’s solidarity with the Syrian people. He called on all involved parties to resolve the Syrian crisis in way that “preserves the safety and stability of Syria.” He also condemned the “violations of human rights” that the Syrian people are going through.
70 countries attended the Istanbul conference in addition toÂ representatives ofÂ the UnitedÂ Nations, the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation CouncilÂ (GCC).
Abdessalem further highlighted the achievements of the first “Friends of Syria” conference held in Tunis last February. The main outcome of the conference was theÂ recognition by many of the governments of nations with representatives present ofÂ the Syrian NationalÂ CouncilÂ as the legitimate representativeÂ of the Syrian people.
The first “Friends of Syria” conference was formed by over 60 national governments, both Western and members of the Arab League following the failure of the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution calling on Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to step down after popular protests and a government crackdown which has rocked Syria leading to over 6,000 reported deaths. The failure to pass a Security Council resolution was due to the Security Council vetoes of both Russia and China.
A view of Sabha
A criminal carjacking turned into a full blown tribal war with six days of revenge attacks from two Saharan tribes leading to 147 deaths and over 350 wounded in the Libyan city of Sabha.
The Interim Libyan Prime Minister in the National Transitional Council Abdulrahim Al Keeb, paid a visit to Sabha on SundayÂ after the army restored order and announced that peace and stability was assured in the region. “My presence here is to confirm to Libyans that the government is confident about the security of the south of our country,” Al Keeb said after meeting with residents and tribal elders in the region.
The tribal war started after a group of men from the Tabu tribe attacked a man belonging to an Arabic tribe in broad daylight, they killed him and hijacked his car. This enraged members of the Arabic tribe who subsequently attacked Tabu tribesmen in revenge attacks. Revenge attacks escalated into an all out tribal war as casualties and injuries mounted.
According to Salem Salah, a journalist at a local Sabha radio station the Tabu that initiated the fighting were Chadian nationals and not Libyan citizens. However, the Tabu tribe is spread out over five countries; Libya, Chad, Niger, Sudan and Egypt in a Saharan territory that stretches to the Libyan-Algerian border region. “TheÂ Tabu have a stronger tribal identity than a national identity. That is the main reason why many Libyan Tabu sympathized with their Chadian counterparts and joined the fighting against the Arabic tribes despite the fact that Libyan Tabu are well integrated into Libyan society,” added Salah.
Salah claimed that the incident was not the first time that Tabu tribesmen had hijacked cars from people in the remote southern roads, carjackings are frequent especially at night destabilizing the entire region. “The pace of this phenomenon had gotten out of control and became unacceptable for people living here,” said Salah.
Sabha is located in southwest Libya, 750 kilometers away from Tripoli.
Salah stated that the Libyan Government did not react immediately, Salah claims the government waited four days to dispatch a reconciliation committee to negotiate a truce between the two tribes. The government’s reconciliation effort lead to a truce and a cease fire which was violated three times. “I think that the Government did not want to interfere because it wanted to remain neutral and now it cannot take sides for or against any tribal party,” said Salah.
Starting on Saturday, the city of Sabha witnessed calm especially after military leaders announced the establishment of a military enforced truce zone in the region. “Thanks to the Army, peace has been restored, many residents who had fled the city because of the unrest are coming back, the wounded were taken to Tripoli hospitals and a few others were taken abroad for their treatment, all the weapons [used in the conflict] will be handed over to the Army.”
Late in the Libyan Revolution, Sabha was one of the last cities to fall from the hands of forces loyal to former Libyan Leader Muammar Ghaddafi in September 2011 during the Fezzan campaign.
By Montasser Ghachem
The Tunisian Revolution was a golden opportunity for us, Tunisians, to reflect on our society and ask ourselves: Are we doing everything we can to be an innovative society? Are we properly using our human resources to drive social and economic prosperity? Unfortunately the answer to these questions is no! Our culture still suffers from flaws that substantially impede our progress and squander valuable human resources.
• We do not value precision: Precisely defined concepts substantially aid efficient and fast human interaction, which in turn drives economic and social prosperity and the creation of knowledge. In Tunisia, most of the concepts we use are foggy, ill-defined and lack consensus. Ask people in the street about the definition of Islam, science, love, respect or freedom; the chances of receiving two similar answers are very low. This imprecision creates stalemates in debates, impedes the communication of experiences and knowledge, slows down economic transactions and amplifies social and political disagreements.
• We do not value moderation: Any moderate or revised opinion betrays, in the eyes of society, a moral flaw, a weakness of character or indecisiveness. This negative attitude leads to extreme, obstinate positions such as complete submission to parents, to the mainstream understanding of religion, unrestrained love of one’s partner, a friend-or-foe approach to human relationships and a stubborn refusal to recognize mistakes. These behaviors drain much of the energy of our youth, impede the smoothness of their interactions, restrain their flexibility and curtail their freedom and consequently their ability to think, share and create.
• We do not approach life scientifically: Studying correlations between events allows us to uncover plausible cause-effect relationships, enabling us to control the causes and thus produce desirable effects for ourselves and society. This is unfortunately not how we approach life. Emotional responses to life events are the norm. When hurt, we become defensive and unwilling to look at the proper causes. We prefer to hold others responsible for what happens to us, and in the absence of someone to blame, we outsource the mistake to fate or God’s will. This culture is due mainly to the lack of development of reason and the heavy punishment of failure.
• We lack foresight and flexibility: The world is complex, overwhelming and constantly changing. In order to feel safe, we devise models to help us understand what has happened and predict what is to come. Successful models have two features: high predictive power and flexibility. Unfortunately, models in Tunisia lack predictive power, being based on a romantic, unscientific or simplistic view of human nature (e.g. an idealistic conception of love). Some models are inflexible, being dogmatic and pretending to have definitive stands on issues (e.g. considering man-made opinions holy). These models stem from static, inherited and unchallenged conceptions of nature, man, fate, morality and metaphysics. In an ever-changing world, models should be kept only as long as the evidence supports them; if contradictions arise, these models should be repaired, refined or replaced.
• Love is important, but what is it? Love plays a major role in our lives. Given its importance, a systematic approach to love is needed to help us understand what love amounts to, how to deal with it and how to harness its power to positive ends. Our education system unfortunately does not tackle this problem properly. Society consequently incurs major losses due to emotional distress, broken relationships and unhealthy individuals. We need to sensitize our youth to a more scientific view of human drives, to what love is, what role instincts play, and the challenges successful relationships must face.
• Towards a more direct and honest opinion: Tunisian culture uses the indirect approach in expressing dissatisfaction and in solving conflicts, a logical response to the emotionally negative attitudes people have towards criticism and confrontation. This indirectness, though, means there is a lack of proper feedback about flaws or mistakes, delaying the correction of possibly faulty behavior. Germans are well-known to be direct and honest in their opinions, an attitude that might be behind the legendary economic efficiency of Germany.
• Understanding society, driving change: In Europe and the USA, youths are exposed at an early age to society and all of its social and economic spheres through training, business competition and social work. The understanding they gain helps them master how to start a company, implement an idea or induce social and political change. Learning by doing is a common motto among individuals in the western world. In Tunisia, society is still a black box for most. Understanding social, legal and economic mechanisms is still the privilege of the few. Consequently, instead of a systematic, strategic and hands-off approach to change and management, we find hesitation, an all-or-nothing or now-or-never approach, a lack of strategic thinking, and timidity in meeting the actual economic and social forces. Through the development of social sciences, we can educate our citizens about the major political, economic and social forces, increase, through training, their ability to anticipate and adapt to social and legal change, and invest in managerial and soft skills. Thereby, we can eradicate the idealistic belief in instant success and replace it with a strategic, rational approach to social, economic and political change.
With its young population, reasonably solid education system and extensive cultural exchange with the western world, Tunisia has considerable potential to develop an innovative society and dynamic culture that would preserve its cultural heritage and identity without foregoing the benefits of more efficient institutions and entrepreneurial spirit. Some flaws, however, obstruct the achievement of this goal. Concerned authorities must be motivated to effect the social engineering required to create a more prosperous society. Montasser Ghachem is a researcher in Economics, currently visiting Harvard University. His research interests are theoretical, and cover mainly the evolution of culture, the role of punishment in the preservation of cooperation in society and the importance of social structure in promoting economic efficiency.
By Aaron Y. Zelin
Last weekend, thousands of Salafis filled the streets of Avenue Habib Bourguiba demonstrating in support of the Qur‘an. It was overshadowed though by the actions of some climbing the clock tower and confronting a theater group staging a separate event at the Municipal Theater nearby. Some news that went unnoticed though was the return of Tarek Maaroufi, a Tunisian who had recently been released from Belgian prison after serving for a number of terror charges, who arrived and also attended the Salafi show of force last Sunday.
According to Sayf Allah bin Hussayn (better know as Abu Ayyad al-Tunisi), who co-founded the Tunisian Combat Group (TCG) with Maaroufi in June 2000 and currently the leader of the salafi-jihadi group Ansar al-Shari‘ah in Tunisia (AST), in an interview this past Friday with the Tunisian Le Temps newspaper, Maaroufi’s stay would only last ten days. Though it is possible that Maaroufi may be visiting family, he lived his entire adult life in Brussels and was stripped of his Belgian citizenship while imprisoned in January 2009. Therefore, it is highly unlikely Maaroufi will be returning to Belgium. This raises two important questions: (1) does Maaroufi still believe in the global jihadi worldview and (2) where does he plan to go after his stay in Tunisia (if he even decides to leave)? Answering these two questions may help determine what his future course is and what it may mean for Tunisia.
Regarding the first, when Maaroufi landed at Tunis–Carthage International Airport, ANSAmed reported that Maaroufi “was happy to have seen that jihad is also in the minds of Tunisians.” This suggests that even though he was imprisoned for nine years, he still had a zeal for jihadism. It is believed that Maaroufi’s jihadi career stretches as far back as 1991 when he first made contact with Rachid Ramda, currently serving a life sentence in France, who is linked to the 1995 Paris Metro bombings, and headed the various European Groupe Islamique Armé (GIA) cells.
While in Brussels, Maaroufi was known for being associated with the GIA and was the leader of the “Brussels cell,” a group of individuals that supported various jihadi fronts during the 1990s with money, recruitment, and the forgery of documentation. Maaroufi was originally arrested in 1995 and sentenced to three years along with eleven others for planning a terror attack in Europe. He would be released only a year later and was put on three years’ probation. The arrest and probation, though, did not deter further activities within the jihadi movement. He began to recruit individuals for the jihad in Chechnya against the Russians. Maaroufi later traveled to Afghanistan in 2000, where he formed the TCG with Abu Ayyad. After returning to Belgium, he would be implicated in many terrorist plots, and one of the most notorious attacks. He was linked to the US Embassy in Paris plot broken up in September 2001, the Kleine Brogel NATO Air Base plot in the fall of 2001, and the Philips Tower plot in 2002. Maaroufi was also associated with cells that were eventually broken up and whose members were arrested in Frankfort and Milan. Maaroufi’s claim to fame though is the facilitation and planning of the assassination of Ahmad Shah Mehsud, former leader of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, two days prior to the 9/11 attacks. Maaroufi would eventually be charged twice, first in 2003 and then later in 2004 for his involvement in terrorism activities and sentenced accordingly six years and then five years in prison, suggesting he was released two years early.
The main modus operandi of Maaroufi’s “Brussels cell” was facilitating document forgery and recruiting individuals to fight abroad. As such, based on Maaroufi’s background, one could surmise that he may be attempting to tap into the swell of Tunisian Salafi youth that are outraged by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s slaughter of their Sunni brethren. Such speculation could be bolstered by Abu Ayyad’s remark in an interview with As-Sabah last week that “we have a large group of young people who want to go out to jihad in Syria.” Based on past relations between Abu Ayyad and Maaroufi, and the fact that Abu Ayyad leads AST, it is possible that Maaroufi may be recruiting individuals to go fight in Syria—or that he may end up doing so if he remains in Tunisia. During the height of the Iraq war, Tunisia was a key staging area where fighters from Europe and North Africans West of Libya would go prior to making their trip to Syria and then later into Iraq. These networks may be re-established for the jihad in Syria, and Maaroufi could ultimately play a role in their regeneration.
The flow of fighters into Syria could be a future issue for Tunisia. Unlike many other countries in the Middle East and North Africa, Tunisia was unaffected by major violence following the Soviet jihad of the 1980s following the return of foreign fighters. One of the main reasons for this was a lack of promotion on the part of the former Tunisian regime to send unwanted individuals abroad. Though the current government is not promoting jihad abroad, the access to information through the internet has changed the game. There are already reports of Lebanese, Palestinians, Libyans, Yemenis, and Europeans joining the Syrian jihad. The last thing Tunisia needs though is a group of hardened fighters returning in a few years while the country is still transitioning to a better future leading to potential instability, especially if the economy continues to sputter. This is why although Maaroufi may only be in Tunisia for ten days, more should be paying attention, or at least determining his true intentions.
Aaron Y. Zelin is a researcher in the Department of Politics at Brandeis University. He maintains the website Jihadology.net and co-edits the al-Wasat blog.
Tunis held the last day of the Tunisian Fair of Handicrafts and Artisans today, April 1st, at the Exhibition Park of Le Kram, which started on March 23rd.
Organized by the National Office of Handicrafts and the International Fairs of Tunis Corporation, the fair exhibited both traditional and modern Tunisian handicrafts. Artisans displayed their masterpieces which included: jewelry, pottery, carpets, baskets, clothes, furniture, beauty products, and even traditional sweets.
Houssem Sayari, a young textile designer, said that his team at the Artistic Center of Innovation of Textiles and Carpets, is using modern technology such as design software, laboratories of chemical dye, and first material research workshops. “We also offer training for students and artisans in order to encourage Tunisian handicrafts,” said Sayari.
A young artisan who graduated college last year, Rania Bannour participated in the fair for the first time. “I just got a loan and will open my own boutique soon,” Bannour gushed. Bannour, who sold handmade jewelry, hopes that her participation will open more doors for her small business.
Amira Krid, a young artisan from Gafsa
Additionally, several associations were present at the fair. 25-year-old Amira Krid, who came from Gafsa, explained that the United Nations Organization for Industrial Development helped her and three other artisans exhibit their work in the national fair. “This sector depends on tourism. If there are more tourists, we sell more carpets. It’s been slow this season, so far,” added Kridi.
The fair seemed to appeal to visitors from different ages and professions. Sabrine, a 22 year old, is a fashion designer who was visiting the fair with her friends to get inspired. “Hopefully, next year I will be exhibiting my own work here. I wanted to have an idea first.”
Ministry of the Interior on Avenue Habib Bourguiba
The Tunisian government has decided toÂ extend the current state ofÂ emergencyÂ in the country until the end ofÂ April, according to an official statement released on Saturday evening by a Presidential spokesperson.
The spokesperson announced that Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki has authorized the one monthÂ extensionÂ after consultationÂ with the head ofÂ the National Constituent AssemblyÂ Mustapha BenÂ Jaafar and Prime Minister HamadiÂ Jebali.
The announcement cited various threats that may causeÂ disturbances to the overall security situation in Tunisia as the primary reason for the extension of the state of emergency.Â The official communication also stated Â that theÂ state of emergency does notÂ necessarily restrict public and individual freedoms.
“The extension of the state of emergency in Tunisia was expected because, despite the improvement in the security situation, there is still some sort of social tension that needs to be taken into consideration,” said Salah Eddine Jorchi, a media figure and a political analyst.
Jorchi further explained that the decision is a back up measure for the government to take in order to deal with any potential deterioration in security. “This decision is also related to the government’s knowledge of gun smuggling from Libya to Tunisia, as well as the social situation,” he added.
According to Jorchi, in order to save the touristic season, Tunisia must ensure a safe environment for tourists. “The improvement in the security situation in Tunisia is a fundamental condition to save the tourism season,” he concluded.
Majed Zalila was born on January 3, 1981 in downtown Tunis. From a young age he always loved art and his pre-school teacher told his parents that he would be a master painter. He went to elementary school in the neighborhood of Tunis near the Barcelone train station. After receiving his high school diploma, he went to the college of fine arts known as ISAMS in Sfax. Growing up in metropolitan Tunis turned him into a regular people-watcher and provided him with the inspiration to focus later in his artistic career on painting representations of people in their everyday life.
Tunisia Live caught up with him recently to gather insight about him and his work.
TL: When did you start painting?
I started painting when I was a child, 3, 4 or 5 years old. I was always getting in trouble with my mother because I would draw on the walls of our house. Â I always knew that I would become a painter. They gave the other students in my pre-school paper and crayons but I got a canvas and paints from my teacher.
Boy with Grandfather
From when I was young, I always told my parents I did not want to become a doctor or a lawyer or any other profession but an artist. I studied all the other subjects just to go to the fine arts school.
Practical art is something that is not taught in school in Tunisia. Art history and theory is taught in University but to be a good artist you don’t learn it from school. We focus on hard sciences in Tunisia, art education is really put to the side.
TL: What mediums do you use?
I use many different mediums– wires, paints, pastels, collages, oil on canvas but my favorite drawing tool is a simple pen.
TL: What is the inspiration of your paintings?Â
Growing up in Tunis made me aware of the great diversity of people who come here. When I would get my coffee on Habib Bourguiba street I would always witness an infinity of different people.
The importance of lines in my work comes from a time after graduating from my art school when I did an internship doing Chinese embroidery.
Majed in a live art performance
TL: When was your first personal exhibition and what was that like?
My first exhibition was in Carthage in 2006. People liked my paintings but they did not buy them. Starting out is always difficult, but it was subsequent exhibitions, every year I worked very hard and had personal exhibitions where my work began to get widely received. I started to develop my own personal style and this was very important.
TL: How do you choose the themes that you paint?
I paint characters, people and simple life… the life that we live everyday. I look for satire and caricatures… the irony of life. Modigliani was a source of real inspiration for me. I was never attracted to cubism or classic impressionism. I developed my own style and developed my own path through my paintings. I want to paint beyond a simple picture but paint a message and express deep feelings. It is more important to be deep than to just be beautiful.
Tunisian society is very complex and I try to put some of the bad behaviors of the normal people into my work. To show the reality of daily life, I am very critical of society. I make representations ofÂ alcoholism, prostitution, corruption and nude people. I also show everyday feelings and emotions in life, music, soccer and people walking around. I have never traveled outside of Tunisia although I am working on a proposition of doing an exposition in Lyon, France. I do some paintings of foreign people but most of my inspiration comes from being in Tunis.
TL: How do you go about picking the colors you want to use?
When I decide to paint with one color, I choose the other colors that go with the previous color one after the other. I love colors of life: red, yellow, green and I paint with a contrast of colors and intensity… I look for a shocking contrast of colors. I also look for a contrast between colors and lines and the shocking contrast between the lines and colors I pick. You feel the speed of the execution. My lines are like a signature. But I also have done a series of black and white drawings.
TL: What is the difference between doing art before and doing art after the revolution?
After the revolution I am more free to work on what I want to work on.
Before the revolution I did characters and focused on soft themes. My work on more serious subjects I kept in my house and showed them only to friends. I did not make them public.
It was impossible to talk about politicians even in the general sense. It was very frustrating to be an artist during Tunisia’s old regime because information was controlled. I did some interviews for TV and what I said was censored. I could not talk about theÂ bad behavior or bad habits of people, when I talked about such subjects those parts of my interviews were cut out from what was broadcast.
I had a message to give and the media at the time would not allow me to give myÂ message.
According to the old regime Tunisia was a paradise, a perfect land with no prostitution, no robbery, noÂ alcoholism… Ben Ali was our god. He was Krishna. The Tunisian people were all prophets, a land of 10 million prophets was what the old regime wanted it’s people and the world to believe. People now enjoy their freedom so much that they enjoy it in a strange way that makes them do weird things.
TL: What will be your next exhibition?
My next big exhibition will be in November or December at the Gallery of Sadika Keskes in Gammarth. It is the place I am able to sell the most paintings. I will for the first time display wireÂ sculpturesÂ with my drawings and paintings. I will take my art and turn it into 3D art.