TUNISIAN PATHS, A Fragile Transition - PhMuseum

TUNISIAN PATHS, A Fragile Transition

Valeria Scrilatti



Five years after the Tunisian revolution, I took a trip into the country, crossing a complexity of individual stories which wind through the claim of economic and social rights, the inability to leave or to legitimize their own stay without suffering discrimination and the desire to release themselves from conditions of marginalization and stigmatization. For some it is a random wandering, for others an awareness walk, all united by an obstinate and disenchanted desire for freedom.

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  • View on Tunis

  • S. has been hit by three bullets on January 15th, 2011. She was in the car on the road to Bizerte with her German boyfriend when the army exploded four bullets against them thinking he was a sniper.
    Shot in the neck, breast and head, she is one of the 2,200 people injured (by military, snipers and police) to whom the post regime government promised justice, work and specialized health care. The documentation to enable her to work in the public administration has disappeared. Alone she continues her own battle to get the job which should be entitled to her, living with daily pain from wounds -especially the one on the neck- and with the state of unemployment.

  • Hammam-Lif, southeastern outskirts of Tunis. On the mountain behind the town, during the uprising of 2011, was created a completely abusive district, renamed “Cité 14 January". Two men are building their own houses.

  • C. is Ivorian and lives in Tunis since 2013. In 2008 he escaped from the Ivory Coast as victim of ethnic persecution, leaving his family to fly to Libya where it stopped for a year. During the trip he was wounded in the head by traffickers, compromising a nerve connected with the view. With the outbreak of the war in February 2011 he left Libya to arrive in Tunisia, hosted in Choucha UNHCR refugees camp, dismessed in 2013. C. has been never recognized the status of political refugee. Following the divestment of the camp by UNHCR, became a big media issue, the Tunisian government has offered local integration of refugees not recognized as political refugees but the process has been never regularized and he has not yet obtained a residence permit. Even in Tunisia, as in Libya, his path of social integration is hampered by continued racial discrimination. He now lives by informal economy selling souvenirs made with desert stones, collected during his stay in Choucha.

  • Tunis, Ras Tabia neighborhood where C. lives. Three children are watching a football play.

  • K. has left Tunisia in 2003 for Canada, where he built a successful career after his studies at the Université du Québec. On June 26 2015, the day of the terrorist attack to the beach of Port El-Kantaoui (Sousse) he was on holiday in the country and would have to leave again five days later. The days following the attack he began to meet with two friends very active in civil society, trying to figure out how Tunisia could recover from the economic and social consequences to which the second major terrorist attack would bring. Since that moment he decided not to come back to Canada, feeling the need to remain in the country and to be active on humanitarian and social scene. Now he is director of communications and public relations for a nonprofit incubator for social innovation. He also collaborates into a ministerial project as coach trainer in southern villages, working with children living in conditions of marginality and social exclusion to prevent religious extremism.

  • K. with his girlfriend form Canada, visiting him for some days. They are planning to get married within a year and they will decide together whether to live in Tunisia or Canada.

  • View on Avenue Bourguiba from the office where K. works.

  • M. was arrested at age of 20 for drug dealing and drug use. He spent 7 years and 6 months in prison, where he learned to make tattoos, with whom he currently works informally in his room at home with family. He did the tattoo on his left arm in jail by himself with needle and cigarette ash. When he came out he kept sleeping on the floor, like in prison, for a long time. In September 2014 he tried to get in Italy with a friend, starting from the coast of Boukornine, with a rubber dinghy 11.5 ft. In Pantelleria he was arrested by the police and after 8 days in Trapani and Catania centers for immigrants he was brought back to Tunisia. Now he is married to a Tunisian girl living in Germany and is waiting for documents to leave the country.

  • M. with a friend visiting him, on te terrace of his house in Hammam-Lif, southeastern outskirts of Tunis.

  • A picture of M. and his wife from their wedding. She lives in Germany and he is waiting for documents to leave the country and reach her.

  • View from a former factory on Hammam-Lif, southeastern outskirts of Tunis where M. lives. On this mountain during the uprising of 2011, was created a completely abusive district, renamed "Cité 14 January".

  • H. is rapper grew up in Djerba who lives in Fouchana, in the southern suburbs of Tunis. He suffers daily discrimination because of the color of his skin and the lyrics of his music give voice to underrepresented minority, victim of racism and prejudice. In his latest video "Kahlouch" (derogatory term which means blackie, as he is called daily) he tells stories of everyday racism. The father of the girl he wanted to marry refused their union because of his skin color and the song on which he is currently working is about mixed marriages. On 14th June 2016 the civil society has presented a draft law against all forms of discrimination, especially racism, which currently is not yet considered legally a crime.

  • A portrait of H. with is family when he is was a child.

  • View on Tunis

  • A. was arrested together with her husband for drug use. She was released after six days in jail, unable to do the urine test because of menstrual cycle, for the husband was expected a fine of 1,000 dinars and one year of prison but he was able to go out with an amnesty issued some months later on the occasion of the beginning of the month of Ramadan.

  • "Until the last cage empty" are the words which A. decided tattooing on her arm.

  • View of Jbal Lahmar (or Djebel Lahmar), which in arab means “red mountain” is a suburban slum among the most historical.

  • M. in front of Espace Mass'Art. He started attending friendships related to microcriminality at the age of 10, in the popular neighborhoods of Djebel Lahmar also known as “red mountain”, deciding to give up his studies last year of secondary school. In 2005 he tried to emigrate to Italy, embarking on a cargo ship which was however directed to Argentina, managing to return to the port before departure. Since when he has approached Espace Mass'Art, his life began to change, now he attends the artistic and cultural space, dealing with technical work and extras for theater and cinema.

  • Children attending a festivals organized by Espace Mass'Art. Born between 2010 and 2012, Mass'Art is a cultural and artistic space that organizes and produces theatrical shows, conferences, exhibitions, performances, movies and concerts.