Customs and traditions
Tunisia is known as one of the most liberal,
Muslim countries. There are several reasons for this.
One is the Western attire that is now commonplace,
especially in the cities. Another is that Tunisian women
are more equal to men compared to large parts of the
rest of the Arab world.
Women have not been allowed to wear veils in public
settings such as at school or at universities and men
have been urged not to let the beard grow. However, many
older Tunisians and people in the countryside have
continued to dress traditionally: men then wear an often
brown or red headdress and a long tunic over puffy
trousers, while the women wear a mantle-like outer
garment, sipsari, which also covers their heads. As
Islamic currents have been allowed to gain more
influence in society after the fall of the Ben Ali
regime in 2011, conflicts related to women's attire have
become more common. Female students have demonstrated
and demanded the right to wear a face veil, niqab, in
classrooms, while Islamists have organized protests, for
example, that female employees in foreign companies
dress, as it was thought, too challenging.
Overview of the capital city of Tunisia, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
Another reason for Tunisia's reputation as relatively
liberal and tolerant in some respects is the position of
women. Tunisia has long been at the forefront of Muslim
countries. The country's first president Bourguiba did
much to improve the situation of Tunisian women. For
example, efforts were made on family planning and women
were encouraged to educate themselves and enter the
labor market, while prohibiting polygamy and forced
marriage. It is mandatory by law that men and women
should have equal pay for equal work.
There are still fixed roles in the family, which
include mother, father and children. Much of the
community revolves around the nuclear family. It is the
man who is the head of the family. Especially in rural
areas, women have a more traditional position adapted to
the home, and women rarely show up at local cafes, where
male guests are totally overwhelmed. The individual's
interests are often seen as inferior to the best
interests of the family and the group. Meals play an
important role as a meeting place for the family. As a
guest you should taste a little of all the dishes
There are restrictions on serving alcohol, and it is
mostly at more expensive restaurants and tourist
establishments that it is served. However,
representatives of the Islamist party Ennahda, which has
had a great influence since the 2011 revolution, have
stated that alcohol is not considered to be banned,
mainly because tourism is so important to the country.
It is common for both men and women to shake hands
when they meet. Men can kiss other men on the cheek if
they have not been seen for a long time, while the same
goes for women when they meet. Men and women, however,
often maintain a respectful distance in accordance with
Islamic custom. It is considered polite and a sign of
respect for younger people to avoid eye contact with
older people or managers.
Football is by far the most popular sport. Women have
been encouraged to participate in sports competitions,
unlike what is customary in many other Arab countries.
Holidays are celebrated in accordance with traditions
within Islam. In addition, non-religious celebrations
such as Independence Day (March 20) and Women's Day
(August 13) were also noted (see Calendar).
The unrest continues
Faithful Islamists attack members of the national organization UGTT as they
gather for new demonstrations against unemployment. The Islamists accuse the
UGTT of upsetting people against the government. When President Marzouki visits
Sidi Bouzid in connection with the two-year anniversary of the commencement of
the uprising and the entire Arab Spring (see December 2010),
protesters throw stones and tomatoes at him.
The dissatisfaction grows over that little change after the revolution. All
the loudest demands are heard that Prime Minister Jebali should resign, but he
rejects the demands. In the city of Siliana, a strike begins in protest against
high unemployment, and over 200 are injured in clashes with police.
Attacks against police stations
Shotgun breaks out when salafists attack a police station in a suburb of
Tunis. An Islamist is killed and two members of the security force are seriously
injured. Similar clashes have occurred repeatedly.
Attack on US Embassy
Violent protests are erupting in Tunisia, as in many other Muslim countries,
due to a movie clip circulating on the Internet that mocks the Prophet Muhammad.
Four people are killed in connection with a crowd invading the US Embassy in
Tunis, as well as at an American school nearby. The United States calls on all
US citizens who do not have key positions to leave the country.
Thousands of women are protesting against a draft new constitution where
women are described "as a complement to men".
President Marzouki opposes the government hastily extraditing Libya's former
prime minister al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmud to his home country.
New convictions against Ben Ali
A military court sentenced the ex-president, still in exile in Saudi Arabia,
to life imprisonment and another court sentenced to 20 years in prison. In both
cases, it is about the deadly violence during the Jasmine Revolution.
Attacks by extremist Islamists
Extreme Islamists attack an art gallery, a courthouse and police stations in
protest of an exhibition they find blasphemous. During several days of unrest,
buildings were set on fire and up to 200 people were arrested. Night time
curfews are introduced in Tunis and in seven other places after the violence.
Protests around women's clothing
Salafists are demonstrating in Manouba that female students have the right to
wear a veil (niqab).