Racism in Tunisia: Breaking Down Taboos – Tunisia Live : Tunisia Live

That Tunisian identity is under construction at the same time as its post-revolutionary institutions are may seem self-evident, but is worth emphasizing. Revolutions mean risks and opportunities.

Tunisians of my acquaintance often emphasize the country’s cosmopolitanism, historically, linguistically, culturally etc. It may be that the multi-racial history of the Mediterranean, and of the different peoples who have settled in what is now Tunisia, has been stripped of some of its elements in order to emphasize the dominant narratives of Europe-facing and Arab identities. Tunisia’s African identity should be a source of pride and strength, and not reduced to the history of slavery.


  • “Slavery is not uniquely related to blacks. There were many white slaves, who were called Mamlouk, but after being freed, those Mamlouk went from being former slaves to acquiring a social category while Black former slaves went to a racial category, which is as freed slaves,” said Salah Trabelsi, a Tunisian historian.
  • many Blacks in Tunisia still bear the legacy of slavery in their identity cards. Some have written in their cards “X, emancipated slave of Y,” or, for instance, Ahmed Atig (freed slave of) Ben Yedder
  • Many blacks in Djerba still shudder at this anachronistic reference in their identity cards
  • Tunisia is still under construction, and now  after the revolution people still did not fully grasp the meaning of who they are
  • “I think that Tunisians are receptive to the idea that other Tunisians may not be Muslim… So in that way, they acknowledge religious diversity in their country, yet I doubt they acknowledge the racial diversity in the same way,”
  • in my talks with black Tunisians, they shared with me that even though they speak the local language and some even wear the headscarf, they are still perceived to be foreigners in their own country


via Edwebb’s Favorite Links on wp from Diigo http://www.tunisia-live.net/2012/10/19/racism-in-tunisia-breaking-down-taboos/


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