Six years after the “Arab Spring,” when the people of Tunisia collectively toppled their government, as black and “white” fought together side-by-side for a cause they shared, which led to similar occurrences in surrounding countries, Tunisia’s black minority (said to be around 15% of the population) continue to fight for the right to live with the basic freedoms that their fellow citizens enjoy. They say that racial discrimination is still widespread in a country that claims to have progressed beyond prejudice, which is entirely ignored by the authorities, and rarely, if ever, publicly acknowledged as a genuine problem.
Filmmaker Nada Issa has made a short (25-minute) investigative documentary for Al Jazeera, motivated by the desire to dig beneath the surface and expose what she describes as a “deep-seated intolerance” in Tunisia, revealing that discrimination in the country is “a shockingly everyday occurrence” for black Tunisians.
Per the filmmaker: “Black Tunisians have long lived on the margins of their society. Although it was one of the very first territories in the world to abolish slavery and provide legal emancipation in 1846, traces of the slave trade’s legacy linger on. This is perhaps most visible in the south of the country, where many black families still bear the names of their ex-slave owners preceded by the term ‘Atig,’ meaning ‘freed from’ While filming in Tunis, we heard rumors that even cemeteries in the rural south were divided along racial lines […] It was also alleged that, in parts of the south, segregation along racial lines was so extreme that entire towns were designated exclusively for whites and others allotted only for occupation by black families.”
Director Issa made the investigative documentary for Al Jazeera’s “People & Power” series. Watch it below: