Category Archives: Tunisia

Radio town hall on Tunisia’s political deadlock

Participants join the debate from the Shems FM studio in Tunis

Last Friday America Abroad Media (AAM) partnered with Shems FM to host a town hall discussion on the country’s ongoing political deadlock and its impact on Tunisians’ daily lives.

The event brought together studio audiences in Tunis, Medenine (in southern Tunisia), and the northern city of Beja. Listeners also phoned into the talk program from around the country.

Listen to the program in Arabic using the audio player below.

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Panelists included:

  • Ziad Aazari, Member of the Ennahda Movement
  • Ali Zeddini, Vice-President of the Tunisian Human Rights League

The panelists and audience – which included citizens and activists – debated the deteriorating security situation; growing unemployment in Tunisia; and the deadlock over the constitution and political process. Audiences also shared their personal accounts of how the political crisis has negatively impacted their businesses.

Click here to see pictures from the discussion.

Watch audience reactions to the debate in the video below.

What is needed to develop entrepreneurship in Tunisia?

By Greta Ghacibeh, Directrice, Association Tunisie Media

Participants join a town hall discussion on entrepreneurship from Zeghouan, Tunisia.

America Abroad Media’s Tunisian office — Association Tunisie Media (ATM) partnered with Radio Mosaique FM to host a town hall discussion exploring ways to foster entrepreneurship among young Tunisians.

The event connected audiences in the coastal city of Sfax — a growing hub for entrepreneurship — and the industrial city of Zeghouan, to discuss the challenges and opportunities for young entrepreneurs in Tunisia today.

Young men and women entrepreneurs who participated in the town hall talked about the challenges they have faced starting a business in Tunisia, from raising capital to dealing with bureaucracy to the lack of professional skills and adequate training.

Faycel Zahar, who works with small businesses as a director at the National Agency for Employment and Independent Work – a department of Tunisia’s Ministry of Employment – talks about the qualities needed to be a successful as entrepreneur in the audio clip below.

(Arabic with English translation).

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Raja Tibini, the owner of a kindergaten in Zeghouan, shares her experience of starting her own business in Tunisia.

Listen in the audio clip below.

(Arabic with English translation).

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Khlifa Sboui, director of small loans at the Tunisian Bank of Solidarity, argued that the Tunisian government is constantly working to create and develop new programs to help aspiring entrepreneurs start their own businesses.

Town hall from Tunisia on the political crisis

By Greta Ghacibeh, Directrice, Association Tunisie Media

Participants join the discussion from Kasserine, Tunisia.

America Abroad Media’s Tunisian office — Association Tunisie Media (ATM) — recently partnered with Radio Shems FM to host a town hall discussion on the country’s current political crisis. The event connected audiences from the interior towns of Gafsa and Kasserine with political leaders in Tunis to discuss the intense conflict between the governing Ennahda party and the opposition, and its impact on citizens’ desire to engage in the political process.

Two years after the Tunisian revolution and the election of a constituent assembly, the basic text of the constitution has not been adopted, and the date of the next election has not been confirmed. The country is immersed in a political deadlock, the National Constituent Assembly is failing to reach a compromise on the future constitution, and Tunisians are more divided than ever.

In this partisan political environment, polls show a substantial dissatisfaction among voters with their elected officials. According to some polls, Ennahda has already lost 31% of those who trusted it on October 23, 2011, the CPR lost 39% of its constituents, and Ettakatol lost 30%.

In this town hall, we asked Tunisians from the towns of Kasserine and Gafsa, known to be particularly disenfranchised, to express their views on the direction the political process is taking in their country, and if that has affected their initial excitement with their newly-found freedom.

Kasserine resident Mohamed Zarrouk expressed his disenchantment with all political parties indiscriminately. He said none of the expectations that the Kasserine residents had when they voted in the 2011 elections were met, and the interior governorate is more disadvantaged than ever.

 

Listen to what he says below.

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(Arabic with English translation)

Zeina Khmayli, an active member of the CPR party in Gafsa, was more optimistic about the political process. He believes that the current relatively chaotic situation is only normal in any democracy going through a transitional phase.

Listen to her discuss this below.

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(Arabic with English translation)

The panelists defended their work and positions of his own party, and attempted to explain the role of the political parties in a democracy.

Mongi Rahoui, ranking member of the “Popular Front” liberal party, said that people have a role in pressuring the parties to deliver on their political promises.

Listen to his response below.

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(Arabic with English translation)

Town hall on Tunisian identity 2 years after the revolution

By Greta Ghacibeh, Directrice, Association Tunisie Media

Town hall participants in the rural city of Beja, Tunisia.

America Abroad Media’s Tunisian office — Association Tunisie Media (ATM) — recently partnered with Radio Mosaique FM to host a town hall discussion exploring Tunisian identity in a post-revolution society. The event took place one day after the second anniversary of the revolution that ousted longtime president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

The event connected audiences in the coastal city of Bizerte and the rural city of Beja to discuss the possible tension between a modern, secular Tunisian identity and the traditional Arab-Muslim identity that has made a strong resurgence since the revolution. Despite different responses to this question expressed during the town hall, participants and panelists seemed to generally agree that modernity and the Arab-Muslim identity did not conflict with one another. However, people disagreed on what aspects of modernity should be adopted, while still preserving elements of the traditional Tunisian identity.

Town hall participants join the discussion from Bizerte, Tunisia.

Some participants said that a total departure from old traditions is preferable in order for society to advance and catch up with the developed world.

Listen to what participant Hsan El Ghazi, a high school teacher from Beja had to say:

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Participant Farouk – a student from Bizerte – said that while the Muslim world was once a hub for modernization, the mentality within Muslim societies has changed.

 

Listen to his response below:

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More conservative Islamist participants said that modernity should not be adopted in its entirety, but adapted to suit the nature of the local culture.

Listen to what town hall participant, Mohamed El Qaydi, an Ennahda activist, had to say:

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Both panelists explained that modernity and the Arab-Muslim identity are each comprised of many components. The Arab-Muslim identity is only one of many identities in Tunisia, and modernity has many faces.

Amel Qrami, a professor of Islamic studies, pointed out that the “modernization” that Tunisia went through did not create “modernity” in its full sense.

Town hall from Tunisia on the protests and public order

From Greta Ghacibeh, Directrice, Association Tunisie Media

TUNIS – On Monday, September 24, 2012, America Abroad Media’s Tunisian office – Association Tunisie Media (ATM) – hosted its ninth town hall connecting Tunisian citizens for discussion about the critical issues they face during the democratic transition. The event – organized in partnership with and broadcast on Shems FM – connected individuals in  Sidi Bouzid, birthplace of the Arab uprisings, with others in the coastal city of Sfax to discuss the contentious relationship between Tunisia’s security forces and protesters.

The fundamental question posed was whether security forces have been using excess force to disperse protesting crowds, and whether or not this infringes on citizens’ civil rights. Many participants who were either victims of police violence or activists for the right to assemble and protest argued yes. State officials, who sat on the panel, argued no – providing explanations for the use of force against protestors who were breaking the law and posed a threat to public safety. When the recent attack on the US embassy was brought up, state officials said that they believed they “avoided a catastrophe, which was bound to happen if the security forces had intervened in more forceful ways, meaning the death toll of protesters could have been much higher than 4 people killed.”

The heated discussion also included numerous phone calls from listeners, as well as comments and questions submitted via Facebook. There was a strong sense from the tone and focus of the discussion that participants felt government security forces were indeed using excess force in dispersing protests, thereby infringing on civil rights. So it came as quite a surprise when, at the end of the town hall, the host read the results of an online poll from Shems FM’s website. A mere 12.27% said the state uses excess force in dealing with protesters, with a remarkable 87.73% saying the state doesn’t use enough.

Listen to audio interviews with some of the town hall participants below:

Gaith Youssifi, unemployed university graduate

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Khaled Aounia, lawyer and activist

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Lazhar Gharbi, political and union activist

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To see pictures from the event, click here .

Tunisian town hall on women’s rights

From Greta Ghacibeh, Directrice, Association Tunisie Media

TUNIS – The legal rights and freedoms which Tunisian women enjoy are unparalleled in the Arab world, thanks to the vision of former president Habib Bourguiba and his ability to institute sustained, far-reaching reforms. Among the first measures he took after independence was the introduction of the Personal Status Code to improve the social position and treatment of women.

But two weeks ago, Tunisia’s ruling Islamist Ennahda party proposed the controversial “Article 28” in the new constitution. The article has already been voted on by the National Constituent Assembly’s (ANC) Rights and Freedoms committee, but must be approved by all members of the ANC before it can be adopted.

The text outlines that, “The state guarantees to protect women’s rights, as they stand, under the principle of man’s complement within the family and man’s partner in developing the country.” In protest against the article’s use of the word “complement,” demonstrations were held in the capital Tunis as well as a number of other cities in the country.

Given these latest events, the main question that was asked in the most recent next town hall was: Are women’s rights in Tunisia under threat?

Read more »

Minority rights in Tunisia

From Greta Ghacibeh, Directrice, Association Tunisie Media

TUNIS – Khemaies Ksila, a member of the Constituent Assembly, explains that even though Tunisia is going through a transitional period, it has been suffering from a “general narrow-minded mentality,” especially when it comes to accepting others’ differences. Yemina Thabet, head of the Tunisian Association to Support Minorities added:

“Minorities have their own particularities and needs that have to be protected by the law. It is our role as a civil society to raise awareness about the matter.”

Thabet also refers to the importance of including minorities’ rights in the Constitution as a way to ensure a culture of tolerance for future generations.

In collaboration with Attounsia TV, AAM’s Tunis-based office—Association Tunisie Media (ATM)—brought together a panel of three government and civil society officials and an enthusiastic audience to discuss the concerns, demands and future of Tunisia’s minorities. These audience members were represented by a group of eleven participants belonging to different minority groups in Tunisia.

Read more »

Youth unemployment in Tunisia

From Greta Ghacibeh, Directrice, Association Tunisie Media

TUNIS – As unemployment in Tunisia hovers around 19%, and 120,000 young people are projected to enter the labor market annually, it would appear that Tunisia is suffering from a lack of jobs. However, experts at human resources expos and job fairs feel that the problem may lie in the disconnect between the education and skill sets of young Tunisians and the predominance of labor and tourism jobs throughout the country.

Is it the responsibility of the state to provide jobs to its people, or is it the responsibility of the people themselves and the job market?

Association Tunisie Media with Mosaique FM examined these questions, along with various causes of unemployment among young Tunisians, during a live town hall broadcast connecting three studios in the capital city Tunis, the coastal city of Nabeul, and the interior city of Syliana.

Read more »

Recent press from Tunisian town hall on civil society

Last week, Association Tunisie Media (ATM), AAM’s Tunis-based office, partnered with Hannibal TV to host a town hall discussion focused on the role of civil society in Tunisia’s democratic transition. Here are some of the news articles generated by the program from Tunisie Numerique and almourassel.com.

From Tunisie Numerique:

The role of civil society in Tunisia has been the spotlight, Wednesday, April 18, 2012 at night in the show “Likaa Maftouh” (open meeting) on Hannibal TV channel.

Very important guests like Badreddine Abdelkefi (member in the constituent assembly and responsible for relations with civil society), Mohsen Marzouk (a human rights activist and secretary-general of the Arab Foundation for Democracy) and Khlifa Ben Fatma (director of training and studies at the orientation center of associations) where in the studio to discuss about “The role of civil society in the success of democratic transition”.

In the presence of an audience that includes representatives of civil society, debates were rich and varied.

The discussions between guests on the set helped to introduce the experiences of each other on the ground and to expose new challenges faced by associations in the country which currently consists of 11000 associations instead of 9600 before the revolution of January 14, 2011.

The debates also focused on the evolution of the activities of civil society associations after the promulgation of the new law on associations.

The program also helped to evoke the overruns of some associations that do not always meet the required criteria.

Speakers stressed, in this issue, the importance of civil society in the success of the democratic transition in the country, calling for greater coordination of civil society organizations with the government.

Read more »

The role of the civil society in a democracy in transition in Tunisia

From Greta Ghacibeh, Directrice, Association Tunisie Media

TUNIS – Basli Raja, Secretary General of the Association “Generation Free Tunisia” stated:

“We do not know much about civil society as a whole. Civil society itself does not know itself very well; it is either not conscious of its strength or thinks it has no strength. After January 14, we realized that we must move. We created a citizens’ association to make our voice heard and realize many actions of awareness to participate in the democratic transition that our country is experiencing.”

Tunisian civil society is a major player in this transition. It led, in cooperation with others, the revolution against the dictatorship, and expresses the diversity and richness of the Tunisian people. But to fully play its vital role, the Tunisian civil society needs to recreate itself, and gain the proper experience and know-how in order to be more effective in delivering a smooth transition to democracy. Read more »