Newspapers in Tunisia
Tunisia has four newspapers: L'Action and al-Amal, RCD's French and
Arabic-speaking main organs (circulation: about 50,000 copies each), the
government-owned La Presse de Tunisie (40,000 copies) and the private as-Sabah
(50,000 ex.). Most newspapers are government-friendly.
Radio and television are state and collected in the Établissement de la
Radiodiffusion-Télévision Tunisienne (ERTT), which broadcasts radio in
Arabic, French and Italian and TV (since 1966) in Arabic and French in two
channels. There are 158 radio and 198 TV receivers per 1,000 residents (2000).
Tunisia's cultural life bears traces of all the
civilizations that have taken possession of the country:
the Phoenician, Roman, Arab, Ottoman (Turkish) and
finally the French. In Carthage, located near
present-day Tunis, during the Roman period, the great
Christian thinkers of ancient times, such as Augustine,
Tertullian and Cyprian, seemed to work.
The Arab cultural heritage is particularly strong.
The city of Kairouan (al-Qayrawan), founded in the 6th
century, houses the Uqba Mosque, named after 'Uqba ibn
Nafi' who was one of the rulers when Islam spread across
North Africa. From Cairo, Muslim culture reached all
over North Africa for hundreds of years. At the mosque
there is a significant collection of older manuscripts.
Latest population statistics of Tunisia, including religious profiles and major languages spoken as well as population growth rates in next three decades.
The Phoenician city of Carthage, the religiously
significant city of Kairouan, the medina (the old city
center) in Tunis as well as ruins after Roman,
Phoenician and Punic sites are all on the UN World
One of the most famous Arab writers of all time, Ibn
Khaldun, lived in Tunis in the 1300s. Ibn Khaldun can be
regarded as historian, social scientist and sociologist.
He traveled to Morocco, the Iberian Peninsula, Egypt and
Syria and made observations and analyzes of, among other
things, how communities are organized and influenced by
various driving forces.
Modern Tunisian literature is available in both
French and Arabic. Albert Memmi and Mustapha Tlili
belong to the great names of French literature. Modern
Arabic-language literature has its main representative
in Abulqasem al-Shabbi, who, although he died in 1934,
only 25 years old is considered Tunisia's national bald.
Ali al-Duaji, who died in 1949, has been a foreground
figure for modern prose. Mahmoud al-Mesaadi and
al-Bashir Khraief are successful postwar writers, while
Azzedin al-Madani is considered one of North Africa's
foremost playwrights. Among young writers are Hassuna
Misbahi, al-Habib al-Salimi and feminist Arusiyya
Some Tunisian filmmakers have gained fame outside the
country, such as Ferid Boughedir with the movie
Halfaouine - Behind the Veil. Since the 1960s, a film
festival has been held in Tunis: Journées
cinématographiques de Carthage, JCC. For Tunisia public
policy, please check
Protests after self-burning
A 32-year-old journalist dies after lighting a fire on himself in protest of
difficult living conditions. In the city of Kasserine, protests last for several
days and police use tear gas against protesters. The case is reminiscent of what
happened in late 2010, when a desperate Tunisian street vendor set fire to
himself. At that time, Kasserine was one of the first cities to respond with
outraged protests. Demonstrations grew and became the Arab Spring of 2011, when
Tunisia's dictator Ben Ali was overthrown.
New ministers should make the wheels spin
Prime Minister Youssef Chahed appoints new ministers. The important Home,
Foreign and Finance Ministers remain - for changes to the most important posts,
he must consult the President, according to the Constitution. But the purpose of
new names is to boost the country's economy. The president is reported to be
against the government reform, but the appointments are confirmed on November
12, when the government wins a vote of confidence in parliament. Minister
responsible for tourism becomes businessman Roni Trabelsi, the country's third
Jewish minister since 1956. He grew up on the island of Djerba, which is also
visited by Jewish pilgrims. Tunisia used to have numerous Jewish populations,
but it has declined sharply as a result of emigration to Israel.
Laws against racism are adopted
Parliament adopts a law that prohibits discrimination and hate messages with
racist signs. According to the law, racist statements should be punishable by a
month's imprisonment and fines. Rioting and threats, as well as membership in a
racist organization, can result in three years in prison and fines. Human rights
organizations, which repeatedly report that blacks are subjected to harassment,
pay tribute to the new law. When applied for the first time, in February 2019, a
woman receives a conditional sentence and a fine for racist charges against her
The government coalition is bursting
President Essebsi says in a televised speech that his party Nida Tounes ended
his cooperation with the Islamist party Ennahda. The Islamists do not want to
kick Prime Minister Chahed, who has fought with the president's son Hafedh Caïd
Essebsi over the sealing position in Nida Tounes.
Budget disputes divide the government
The ruling party shuts down Prime Minister Youssef Chahed as a result of
being dissatisfied with the president's son who is paralyzing decision-making.
President Béji Caïd Essebsi's son Hafedh is leading the party and the President
himself has asked Chahed to step down. The Prime Minister has tried to enforce
the turnaround policy and privatization. It splits the party, which must have a
draft state budget for 2019 ready by mid-October. The country's largest trade
union organization supports the demands that Chahed be petitioned.
Migrants are forcibly prevented
Police intervene to stop a migrant ship on its way out of the Mediterranean
from Sfax. Riot occurs, among other things, the boat is on fire. The next few
days, at least eight dead are floating ashore. Four Tunisians, eight Ivorians
and two Congolese are arrested - unclear if some are smugglers. During the first
half of 2018, 2,600 people were arrested while trying to cross the sea to
Europe. It was almost five times as many as the same period last year, a
spokesman for the National Guard said.
Resistance to marriage across religious boundaries
Despite having the law on their side, a Tunisian woman and an Italian man are
unable to find anyone who is ready to wed them, unless the man converts to
Islam. Prohibition of women from marrying non-Muslim men is common in Muslim
countries, but in Tunisia it was allowed in September 2017. If the
Tunisian-Italian couple reports that the woman is 40 years old and the man 68.
Human rights organizations demand that the Justice Department intervene.
Anger against liberal bills
In the coastal town of Sfax, a demonstration is being held in protest of
plans for reform that would mean that women receive equal inheritance rights and
that homosexuality be decriminalized. The proposals - which comprise 230 text
pages - will adapt the laws to the constitution adopted in 2014, in the wake of
the Arab Spring. As far as inheritance law is concerned, the responsible
committee intends that equal rights for men and women should become the norm,
but that the law must at the same time leave open to those who want to make
their own inheritance distribution through wills.
Woman elected mayor of Tunis
Souad Abderrahim from the Islamist party Ennahda wins the mayoral election in
Tunis and thus becomes the first woman in the post. She was appointed by the
members of the Tunis delegation in a vote boycotted by the central and left
parties. Women have also won mayor elections in a number of other Tunisian
cities. The municipal elections held in May were the first in the country since
the overthrow of President Ben Ali in 2011.
Home Minister kicked
Interior Minister Lotfi Brahem may be temporarily replaced by Ghazi Jribi. No
reason is stated. Brahem himself has accused a number of officials earlier in
the day after the sinking a few days earlier, and dismissed ten people.
Over 50 migrants drown
The fleet rescues 68 migrants, most Tunisians, then a boat capsized off the
coast. Over 50 people are found drowned but according to the survivors there
were at least 180 aboard the boat. The sinking accident is one of the worst so
far this year on the Mediterranean.
Municipal elections are held
Municipal elections are held for the first time since the Democratic uprising
in 2011. Only one in three voters take part in the elections where, according to
preliminary results, the Islamic Ennahda is the largest, followed by the secular
coalition partner Nida Tounes. The low turnout is seen as an expression of
voters' frustration over continued problems with corruption, weak finances and
lack of security.
Free Trade Agreement in Africa
Tunisia is one of 44 Member States of the African Union (AU) that signs an
agreement to set up an African Free Trade Area, AFCFTA.
Tunisia does not release tax haven status
The EU deletes Tunisia and seven other countries / territories from a newly
published list of tax havens. They are now being transferred to a "gray" list of
55 countries that have pledged to adapt to EU standards in tax and financial
legislation, but without specific commitments. The EU published its first
"black" list in early December. Now only nine countries / territories remain on
Aqim leader killed
Tunisian security forces are said to have killed an Algerian leader for
al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (Aqim), Bilel Kobi, who has been wanted in
Algeria since 1993. Another Algerian who is believed to have led an Aqim cell in
Tunisia is also killed in the operation taking place in the mountainous regions
of western part of the country.
Crisis meetings after unrest
President Essebsi holds meetings with representatives of political parties,
the trade union movement UGTT and the employer organization Utica as a result of
the unrest that has shaken the country. Promises of social reform follow,
including an increase in grants for poor families, health care for all, and
housing for the vulnerable. The Minister of Social Affairs states that several
of the reforms have been planned for several months. In total, almost 780 people
are estimated to have been arrested during the week's unrest.
Violent protests against austerity
Price increases for basic commodities as well as an announced increase in VAT
and social charges have triggered protest actions around the country. It started
out as peaceful demonstrations but has now passed into a few evenings of
violence. One person has died, several hundreds have been arrested and about 50
police officers have been injured, according to authorities. Soldiers have been
commissioned to protect banks, post offices and government buildings in the
larger cities. Protesters accuse police of assault.