Bahraini Islamist scholar Hasan al-Husaini has launched an online campaign calling on”believers” and Muslims throughout the world to “save” the women of Tunisia from prostitution.
In a Youtube video posted on his personal channel, al-Husaini documented his visit to a legal brothel in the coastal city Sousse, in which he confronted women who worked there and asked them to quit their professions and “end their sins.” Entitled “Hasan al-Husaini breaks into a prostitution den in Tunisia. … And a surprise follows,” the video showed an emotional conversation, during which both al-Husaini and the women he was preaching to burst into tears.
Well-known for his prosthelytizing activities in the Arab world, al-Husaini is a part of an Islamist charity association called the “Islamist Association of Good Deeds.”
Even though the faces of the women who appeared in the YouTube video were hidden, they responded emotionally to al-Husaini’s questions.
“Only God can judge us, not you,” shouted one of the women. “You come from the Gulf, where you walk on oil. … Tunisia is ravished.”
“Get us jobs and houses and we’ll quit this,” added another woman.
Al-Husaini blamed the women for committing sins and argued that starving to death would be more honorable than going against God’s will. After the video went viral online with over 2 million views, a campaign started on Twitter under the names
#استروا_حرائر_تونس (Arabic for “cover the free women of Tunisia”) and #حملة_اعفاف_بنات_تونس (Arabic for “campaign to restore chastity of Tunisian girls”), calling on businessmen and investors from the Gulf area and other regions to either donate money or launch projects to help improve the conditions of the women in the videos.
Lawyer and feminist activist Bochra Bel Haj Hmida told Tunisia Live that legal prostitution in Tunisia is organized under an old law that has existed since the French colonial period in the 1940s.
“These foreign parties are interfering in our internal matters, in an attempt to violate the state of law,” Bel Haj Hmida said. “A civil state is not compatible with Umah or Khilafa preachers like al-Husaini call for.”
The Tunisian Association for Democratic Women (ATFD) member explained that the government is responsible for such interference. She expressed surprise over the absence of any reaction from official authorities to such acts that represent “a threat to law and order.”
The Tunisian penal code bans illegal prostitution, in which prostitutes do not have licenses from the Ministry of the Interior. This is the only arm of the state that supervises legal prostitution activities, including regular sanitary care and the paying of taxes to the state.
When asked about the issue, the media office at the Ministry of the Interior denied knowledge of al-Husaini’s campaign and refused to comment on the matter.