The day commemorates the events of April 9, 1938, when the arrest of a popular leader of the Neo-Destour (New Constitution) Party sparked a popular demonstration. The New Constitutional Liberal Party was founded by a group of nationalist politicians during the French protectorate. The demonstration was ultimately quashed by French policemen, who fired on demonstrators, killing at least 22 people and wounding 150 others.
The events of that momentous day had been preceded by an earlier series of protests demanding political reforms, including the formation of a parliament. The massacre proved to be a turning point in Tunisia’s independence movement.
Martyrs' Day celebration in Tunisia is characterized by solemnity in honor of the heroes of the war, who sacrificed their lives for the sovereignty of the country. The celebration of the holiday includes speeches and tributes paid by government officials and leaders from national civic groups.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on April 9, 2012.
Myriam is a communication consultant for the World Bank working as part of the Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI) team in Marseille, France. Since Joining she has been working on reinforcing the communication strategy of the CMI. She has over five years of experience in the field of media and communication having worked as a journalist with both local and international organizations in Tunisia and abroad.