21 March 2012 5:36 pm | | 5

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Bachir Chammam is National Constituent Assembly member (NCA) of Ennahdha party in the October 2011 elections as the representative of Kebili, an oasis city in southeastern Tunisia.

Chammam is the only black member of the NCA.

He was elected as “My Islamic upbringing allowed me to get over some minor incidents related to the color of my skin in Tunisia, which I attribute to cultural backwardness. This did not affect me at all,” Chammam stated. His position as Ennahdha’s leading personality in Kebili made him a respected figure in the region.

Chammam was born on February 19th, 1961 in a poor religious family in Old Kebili. Chammam joined the Ennahdha movement in 1977, when he was 16 years old. He was caught in 1987, under President Bourguiba’s rule, and accused of belonging to the Islamist movement Ennahdha. He was then held in jail for three months. His case was not heard by a judge.

In 1991, Chammam was forced to flee Tunisia after the crackdown on Ennahdha members by the Ben Ali regime. He went to Libya in December 1991, where he stayed for two months. There, he met with Sudanese immigrants who suggested that he go to Sudan to pursue his studies. They smuggled him over in a pickup through the town of Kufra in southern Libya.

Libyan border control officials arrested them in Kufra, before they entered Sudan, and returned them to Ajdabia, then Benghazi, in eastern Libya. He was mistaken for a Sundanese drug smuggler, held in custody and questioned by Libyan security forces. He was then cleared of all charges related to drug possession, and was able to travel to Sudan legally.

The Ben Ali regime exercised pressure on the Sudanese authorities to hand over Chammam and other Tunisian political dissidents. The Sudanese authorities suggested that Chammam pursue his studies to avoid extradition back to Tunisia. Chammam chose to do this, on the condition that he would not engage in any political and commercial activity and/or in any terrorist activity against Tunisia. During this time, he lived and worked in Khartum. He was able to bring his wife and his son to Sudan in November 1997, after the Tunisian regime received pressure from European governments to grant passports to families of political dissidents in exile.

Chammam graduated Suma Cum Laude from the Um Durman University of Islamic Studies with a B.A. in Shariaa and Comparative Law in 1995. In 1999, he received a diploma in Public Law from the University of Niline in Khartum, Sudan. Chammam then studied at the Islamic University of Um Durman in Sudan, earning a Suma Cum Laude Masters’ Degree in Shariaa and Sources of Jurisprudence in 2000.

In 2004, he was awarded a PhD in the same major from the same university. Chammam worked as an Assistant Professor in the World African University in Khartoum from 2001 to 2004, in the Faculty of Shariaa and Islamic Studies. He also worked as an imaam in the university’s mosque. The private university is funded by seven Arab countries, and its aim is to teach Arabic and Islamic Studies to Sub-Saharan Africa. Almost all students are African Muslims. His published works include research on Shariaa law, jurisprudence and studies of Islamic scholars.

“I led a calm and discreet life in Sudan, where my two young children were born. I felt Sudan was like home,” Chammam stated.

In March 2011, Chammam returned to Tunisia, after restrictions on political dissidents were lifted following the ouster of Zine El Abdine Ben Ali during the Tunisian Revolution.

He is the father of three children, two boys, and a girl.

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Comments (5)

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  1. fadwa says:

    dr chammam has three boys and a girl

  2. Guest says:

    He is his a great man in spite of his sad history, by the way he has 3 boys and 1 girl

  3. Suzanna says:

    it is women who will heal the world

  4. chris says:

    As a black person I am proud of the achievements of Mr.Chammam. But what is it with some Arab people who seem to think they are not black. This type of discrimination is what stops people moving forward. Here is my definition of black….if the Klu Klux Klan would hang you from a tree… well guess what your black. I have had many arguements with Tunisians who look down on the darker skinned people of the Sahara for instance calling them black. Many Tunisians marry white women and go abroad to France or the UK…..well guess what folks the people in those countries see Arabs as black people.

    It is a shame that this man even has to be written about in a country full of black people. Now if they said he was not Arab that is perfectly ok but they call him ‘black’ like they are white. Get over yourselves and understand you are not and never will be white.

    • fadwa says:

      hi chris, being white is not an achievement or a dream ;it is not right that black tunisians marry white women and go abroad. they are black and satisfied with their dark skin they are indeed satisfied with what allah gave them it is right that black in tunis are sometimes descriminated but not to the extent of feeling shameful; tunis is the land of peace, the land of all tunisians no matter what their idiology, color ,sex , origin is. Mr chris it is clear that you have a complexity because you are black ,hey bro try to be satisfied with all qualities that allah granted you be positive and be proud to be what allah wanted you to be

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