Hysterical accusations of “Satanism” have clouded the deaths of a teenage schoolgirl who committed suicide in a Tunis suburb.
Threats, insults, and widespread denunciations of “Satanism” have flooded a deceased 15- year old girl’s Facebook account after she was found hanging in her El Mourouj home last Friday. A 20-year old man from the same town also committed suicide days later.
Fellow students, who apparently linked the girl to “Satanism” because of her passion for metal music, have demanded that all “Satanists and atheists be expelled from public schools,” and proposed a general strike to protest against any new case of suicide.
Despite statements from a representative of the Ministry of Education saying that the girl has”absolutely no ties to “Satanism” whatsoever in any way,” various prominent figures, including the ex-governor of Nabeul Habib Sethom, issued vague warnings “to be wary of this phenomenon.” Others accused the girl of being part of a growing Satanist cult, where bizarre rituals, including the consumption of cat’s blood and orgies, have allegedly been taking place.
The origin of these accusations seems to trace back to the Tunisian news website Akher Khabar Online, which posted an article shortly after the girl’s death presenting a flurry of “exclusive information” about the presence of ominous Satanic rituals in El Mourouj. The website, edited by Tunisian journalist Noureddine Mbarki, anonymously quotes a teacher from the deceased student’s El Mourouj 1 school confirming the presence of “Satanists” there.
This is not the first time Mbarki has embarked on what could be called a “Satanism awareness campaign,” having written a lengthy expose for the Al Watan newspaper in June 2007 on the subject, and authoring a catalog the same year on how to recognize and identify supposed “Satanists” around you.
The strength of Mbarki’s journalistic standards can be weighed against the 2007 piece he wrote, in which he called the (male) author of this Tunisia Live article a “female Satanist,” apparently based on the cover photos of a few popular metal bands.
Contacted by Tunisia Live, Mbarki declined to comment on the record.
According to Tunisian media commentator Haythem El Mekki, such accusations reflect the public’s willingness to latch on to sensational conclusions with little to no evidence.
“All of this is a stupid interpretation of the issue,” El Mekki said to Tunisia Live. “A lot of people are getting their information from unreliable websites and Facebook.
Speaking to Mosaique FM, Ilhem Barboura, the leader of the Ministry’s investigation in the school, said that four hours of exhaustive interviews by trained investigators and psychologists revealed no evidence that “Satanism” played any role in the girl’s suicide.
Prior to working as a journalist, Inel worked as a computer programmer. Inel is fluent in English, French, and Arabic. He writes mainly about freedoms, liberties, and minorities' rights in post revolution Tunisia. He currently blogs about films in French and writes metal reviews.