lundi 25 novembre 2013

Apocalypse of humanity “Let’s humanize”!




As I walk the streets of Tunis and watch the frowning faces passing by, I feel so desperate and bitter.

It was last week; a salafist-looking man (Beard, Kamees…) appeared in the crowd. He was holding a medium-sized sports bag, walking super-fast and looking nervously left and right.

A few months ago, nobody would have cared about him or have given such a scene a second thought. People were too secure to notice him.

But that day, I watched all the people, who were walking on the same sidewalk as the salafist-looking man, move to the other side and give him confused looks as they were trying to get away from him as fast as they could.

I never saw that coming, at least not until two years ago; this unfortunate day when I saw Tunisian people walking the street and feeling insecure.

I am sure that many political opponents of the old or even the current regime felt/feel unsafe at a certain point. But when it turns out that today all Tunisians feel like they are walking on thin ice, you know that the terrorist wave which hit Tunisia lately has left real traces.

It went from targeting opposition politicians to targeting army and police forces. Lately it targeted tourists (hotels), political symbols (Bourguiba’s tomb) and even civilians (artificial bombs).

Despite the failure of the last attempts, Tunisians seem to not recognize their country anymore. Many of them cannot accept the fact that terrorist activities (including the finding of fake bombs) became a typical part of the national daily news.

As far as I am concerned, living as a normal Tunisian has become a psychological war. I only hope that there will be no trivialization of the human losses. I hope we will not get used to watch bloody news because it breaks my heart when I see people watching the news of Syria or Iraq (and other conflict zones) and not reacting anymore.

When 200 people dying daily in the MENA region doesn’t mean anything, doesn’t move any soul, doesn’t disturb any mind, doesn’t generate any reaction, this is what I call the apocalypse of humanity. This is the progressive disappearance of any empathy or humanly feeling towards fellow human beings.

This is an urgent matter. Before it is too late, let’s re-humanize our relationships through education. Before corrupting the future generation with the inhuman “values” of our shameful history, let’s show them that we have learned that extremism is stupid and that we don’t want them to have the same life we had. We must do this simply because “there is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds for children. There is no duty more important than ensuring that children’s rights are respected, that their lives are free from fear and that they grow up in peace.” (Kofi Annan)


samedi 28 septembre 2013

The Tunisian Woman: Another Arab Woman?

I’ve just got back from a Human Rights Summer Camp with Amnesty International in my hometown Chebba (Tunisia) and I can’t say that I am the same person anymore. Have you ever posed to yourself,  “how much do I really know about my country and is my way of seeing things realistic?”    
 I had pondered this question many times before, but the answers I got hit me like a tornado!
I genuinely thought that I knew the situation of women rights in Tunisia and the “level” of gender inequality quite well. But, as I exchanged my thoughts with a group of young people and trainers from all corners of the country, it dawned on me that I had missed the ‘bigger picture’.
It wasn’t about things I never heard of, but about social common phenomenon which I didn’t know were so common. I am not your overly optimistic kind of person about the rights of women in Tunisia. In fact, if asked to comment, I almost never answer that “the Tunisian woman is the luckiest among Arab women!” Instead I used to be apologetic, fidgeting with the phrase: “This is how she is usually seen by an outsider but I think there are SOME drawbacks you should probably know.” I only knew of SOME, in fact, I thought of SOME but I realized I was way off track. I had veered off the grid and I will tell you why. The answer is based on two broad phenomena: Domestic Violence and Rape/Sexual Harassment
Domestic Violence:
The fact that I was born in a family (including my extended family) where I never saw or heard about violence between spouses (lucky me!), blinded me concerning the fact that 1 in 5 Tunisian women is a victim of domestic violence (according to The National Survey on Violence towards Women in Tunisia).
Beyond the shock that such numbers can cause. I was even more shocked when I learnt more about the social acceptance and contribution to such a phenomenon. Domestic violence is seen in many regions as a sign of manhood. In some rural regions, they believe that a husband must beat his wife to educate her. Those who speak for violence quip that “domestic violence is not a crime; things happen between a man and his wife, it’s not such a big deal!” Even in Islam it is legitimate to beat one’s wife, it’s for her good! and wives are said to provoke their husbands into beating them It Is fondly referred to as chastisement. A little for the good manners they say. Barbaric and inhumane! It’s violence not some sort of tease play!
Ever wondered what the Tunisian masculine society think about domestic violence and not the minority civil rights activists? Yes, those were some very “common” answers.
I think my shock almost reached its edge when I heard several testimonies about the complicity of police officers and doctors (who are supposed to be educated people) in many cases of domestic violence: a police officer would ignore the victim trying to pursue her offending husband, a doctor who would give a victim a sick note of only 3 days because the offender was the husband. The doctor would easily get a sick note for a much longer period if she claims that the assault was conducted by an unknown aggressor.
As a result, and as a mitigating factor, some women rights NGOs in Tunisia ask women to not mention that the offender is the husband so they can get real attention. This kind of complicity unfortunately also confronted many victims of rape and sexual harassment.
Rape/Sexual Harassment:
Many Tunisian readers would possibly relate to the much talked about “rape of Mariem”. A Tunisian young woman who was raped by the police in April 2013and then got accused of indecency! This is what I knew about rape in Tunisia besides the fact that it was a phase of the torturing procedure within Ben Ali’s regime. Plus, I would read about some cases in the newspaper from time to time. But I was in some naïve way convinced that we are fine. At least we didn’t have daily gang rapes like in some areas in Egypt .Rape is not phenomenon daily occurrence in Tunisia, it is a crime which happens I’d tell myself.
After a conversation with a woman rights activist and a psychologist, I had many beliefs fall apart and I came to a new conclusion: rape is a phenomenon in Tunisia. It happens but it is UNSEEN and it is UNSPOKEN. The Tunisian woman is yet another Arab woman who suffers from a suppressed sexually-frustrated society; “the more it bans sex the more it’s obsessed with it” (Michel Foucault).
Moreover, as in many Arab countries, statistically, the assaulter (rape or sexual harassment) is often a family member. Also, statistically, most victims don’t take any steps in order to file a claim against the offender or get help (a psychological treatment) and it’s even more complicated when it is about spousal rape.
On the contrary, most of the unmarried victims who lose their virginity to rape seek repairing surgery because of the stigma and the trauma that rape brings and their prospective exclusion if even by any works of the devil they dare not have their hymen intact! They opt for plastic, not for themselves but for the society. This society that is so bent on virginity and not justice. This society that glorifies fathers at the expense of mothers. This society that for a long time, I was apologetic for. This society that I now see quite clearly. Yes, the victim doesn’t have the time to be a victim; she has to do as much as she possibly can to satisfy the society as her virginity is the equivalent of her family’s honor not her own.
Spousal rape, it is not illegal neither is it shunned by society. For many people this kind of rape cannot exist because for them, sex in marriage (even if it is forced) is sex. The chosen right of the spouse. The undeniable privilege. Regardless of how unsatisfying or demeaning, nothing more nothing less!

Women rights NGO’s are still fighting to have it penalized and to raise awareness about it within the Tunisian society. Sadly, even some female Tunisian members of the National Constituent Assembly, who are now writing the Tunisian constitution, don’t acknowledge it!

lundi 12 août 2013

The Pursuit of Happiness?


(The lines below don’t include any new information about anything. It’s a reminder of how insane our world is.)

I wake up every morning
Wishing this life is nothing
But a long nightmare
I sleep every night
Hoping we would have
More breathable air
I dream of a world
with no international blood addiction
I dream of a world

With no international war conviction

*    *    *    *    *    *
I am tired of waiting, hoping
to get used to this inhuman mess
I’m sorry I tried
It doesn’t make any sense…
It took me so long
to realize that I definitely
Don’t belong
That we are daily deteriorating
And aren’t getting along
Why would some spend years
building cities and homes
and then others would come
and ruin it with bombs?
Why would some be different
And have their own believes
If others would come
Jail, hang or stone them
And the lucky ones would leave?
What if there were no
Suicide bombers
What if there was no
Blood on the screen
What if it was green?
*    *    *    *    *    *
Wonder why there are
no serious peace talks?
When war is money
And arms industry
is number one lobby
And killing movies
Are the new “cool” and “funny”…
What peace are you talking about?
They gotta sell the guns!
They gotta experiment!
They gotta own and control!
They need gold and petrol!
*    *    *    *    *    *
I’m tired of being born here
Suffocating under the burden
Of this civilization crisis
If your voice ever rises
And yell: this is enough!
Will it make a change?
Did you ever think
About having second thoughts
About the way your life is headed
And who controls it and who planned it?
Do you seriously relate
to this moral insanity?
Did you ever choose
between purity and profanity?
And who defines them both
And who shaped your mentality?
How many humans have
The right
To pursuit happiness?
How many were forced to bend
And give up on their boldness?
Do you know how many people wish
they were never born
how many times they wish
to end their suffering
once for all?
Do you know how is it like to be born
In the wrong country
In the wrong century
And blame the history
And curse the geography
‘cause you found out that
Social justice
Is a political mythology
Those politicians, to win, make promises
They got nothing done, then make apologies…
And ‘cause you realised
that borders became very real
And are no longer imaginary lines
And when one stands up
And shows he inclines
Toward a fair deal
and ask for solutions
to a global system
which promotes cleavage
And divides the world
And causes more of a damage
Then anything would
They tell you: take those aids
And stop nagging
third world countries
just listen and obey
Be happily exploited!
Because in this, you have no say…

samedi 25 mai 2013

Gender Equality in Tunisia: Between Law and Society

I may be living in one of the most advanced countries in terms of gender equality. As far as I am concerned, this “honorary” label only concerns legislation and has nothing to do with real life.
I don’t deny the fact that in Tunisia we share almost equally, as males and females, many basic rights. But the question is: do we really have total equality?
Today, I’ll not talk about law because apart of some exceptions, it isn’t the biggest challenge. The real gender equality needs enforcement starting from society. The Tunisian society, with some slight differences up to every region, educates children unequally. There are exclusive rights for males and especially a bizarre perspective of how to raise a “man”.
Those same rights are legally equal for both genders. But the family doesn’t allow females to practice them. To be more specific, let me tell you about some imperfections in the Tunisian education:
Activism and Gender Inequality:
Activism needs time, effort and availability. Going out is one of the biggest problems for females. Most of the Tunisian families limit their daughters’ activities to their studies. The Tunisian woman is rarely present in the political life. Women have to go through the famous “war of the sexes” to take real places in the political parties or the syndical organization (UGTT) and unfortunately confront harassment daily once they’re in. The current conception about raising females, which is very traditionalist, considers women as a subject of protection. The Tunisian family, even though it provides to females the right to education and having a career, still priors family duties (taking care of the husband, children and the house) to the associative or political life. The Tunisian women are considered inferior, incomplete and incapable of dealing with pressure in politics. Thus, in the Tunisian modern history, there is almost only one female minister in the Tunisian government and most critics believe that this minister has rather a decorative role not a functional one.
Family Duties and Gender Inequality:
Most of the family duties as I mentioned before are attributed to women. Husbands and Wives rarely share the function of raising children. Plus, even though women work outside and make the same efforts as men, they have to do lonely most of the house chores. The Café is a specific tradition for Tunisian men. Almost every man in Tunisia after leaving duty, in both city and countryside, spend hours in Cafés smoking, playing cards and chitchatting while women are obliged to go back home right after finishing work to clean the house and take care of the children. The absurd phenomenon in Tunisia is that women who suffer from inequality raise their children the same way their parents did. She allows her son/s to go play outside playing football and so on or even to spend time in Cafés but forces her daughter/s to help her with the house shores and to stay at home. So there is no wonder that in many houses, the sister cleans after her brother or the daughter after her father.

 The Tunisian family members rarely share equally the house shores. Consequently, the male is dependent to the female and the female is overtired. 

jeudi 28 mars 2013

"Free Your Mind, Kill Your TV"


Inspired by a street quote. 


The words you read in the magazine 
The pictures you see in the daily news
Are they true?
You believe what they want you to believe
You see what they want you to see 
You think just the way they want you to think 

How come you realize too late
Your mind they manipulate 
Do you need a battery to run it on your own?
You, consumer of ads and war!

Will you get over the trap box 
you buy with your own will?
Yes, Kill your TV
Get free
Kill you TV
Free your mind
kill your TV
Go out to the streets
and see what you'll really see
Burn the magazine
Get free!


(Picture belongs to its original owner. 
No copyright infringement intended)


jeudi 14 mars 2013

E-PEACE


This is one of the most inspiring quotes I’ve ever read in my life. I believe that hate is the primary act of violence. Yes, I was born as many of you in a country where they teach you to hate your enemy and where they give you several arguments to justify violence and make you picture hate as resistance, pride, dignity, courage and sometimes manhood! Unfortunately, this education is inevitable..   
I believe that justifying hate to a child is both shameful and tragic…
Indeed the human being grows in the international cycle of violence:
Violent cartoons, weapon shaped toys, violent movies, violent video games…etc When the good guys are the ones who kill the bad guys and the hero is Rambo or some muscled guy with a ton of weapons, you know there is something wrong with this world.
èCivilization: we’re doing it wrong.
Matter of fact, as violence gained the real world, it had invaded the virtual one as soon as it was created…
The most noticeable phenomenon on the web is the massive use of fake profiles in publishing hate comments, violent photos, racist pages and groups which target young people and brainwash a lot of them…
èE-terrorism: a new form of terrorism is spreading on the social networks.
However, peace makers themselves use networks to create virtual communities and movements which bring people from different countries and religions together, sometimes people “who are supposed to be ferocious historical enemies”. This is the power of E-PEACE: when you create an unlimited exchange space to unify people who normally aren’t even allowed to talk to each other, when you destroy the ever inherited prejudices and let people get to know each other on their own, when you break all the boundaries, get over all the taboos, when you say: READY TO LIVE IN PEACE and I LOVE YOU!

Therefore, as once people like Matrin L. King, Gandhi, John Lennon and Nelson Mandela tried to bring people together, today young leaders can make a difference too, people “who let no man pull them low enough to hate him”.