The Growing Uprising
The historic district of Tunis is undoubtedly beautiful.
While I was busy taking photos, a car stopped and two people alighted to approach two Europeans who were filming with a large camera. They asked for proof of permission to film in public places, and discussions ensued while I headed toward my hostel.
On the road, I asked a passerby for directions and he was about to answer when another young and relaxed-looking man appeared from behind him. The young man stared at the passerby from whom I sought directions, and with knowing looks, it seemed that the passerby understood something I did not and continued along. I then found myself alone with this young man, who casually proposed to accompany me onto my destination. On the way to my hostel, he asked what I did in life, if I liked football, what I thought of Tunisia and Ibn Khaldun (historian, philosopher, diplomat and politician in 1332 - 1406), whose statue stood erected on the central square of Tunis. In his opinion, it was a symbol of criticism of the authoritarian governments around the world. Annoyed by his questions, I responded that I was just a tourist who do not debate on politics during travels, and that he shouldn’t worry about me or what I thought. Amazed, he looked at me and told me that it was better that way.
I had the same experience of being followed on the streets by undercover police officers, who were young and 3 times more casual than the young man I encountered previously. Each time they asked same questions. Other backpackers I met reported similar experiences as long as they don’t travel with a tour group. I felt freer in Libya than in Tunisia ironically.
Naturally, the frustration of Tunisians and the events that followed a year later did not surprise me.
Did you know...
- Tunisia is the most northern country in the whole of Africa with strong trade ties to Europe.
- The official language is Arabic, though many people also speak French. The main religion is Muslim. Bear this in mind when packing for your vacation, modest clothing is necessary to respect their religion when in the towns and cities.
- Kairouan is the fourth most important city in the Muslim world after Mecca.
- Before the revolution, the country has only ever had two presidents.
- This country is known for it’s Roman archaeological sites with Carthage being the most popular among tourists.
- Kebili has evidence of stone age settlers.
- Tunisia is officially known as the Tunisian Republic with Tunis as the capital. In fact more than a quarter of the total Tunisian population live in Tunis.