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La Tunisie sur le Los Angeles Times

Un article du Los Angeles Times (the third-most widely distributed newspaper and the second-largest metropolitan newspaper in the United States) qui passera surement inapercu en Tunisie mais qui merite qu'on s'y attarde rien que pour le fait que c'est le deuxieme du meme auteur (email) dans l'espace d'un seul mois et les seuls qui parlent de la Tunisie au LA Times durant toute l'annee 2007.


Anonyme a dit…
est ce que tu as le titre; je ne peux accéder au dit article! merci.
Anonyme a dit…
est ce que tu pourrai faire un copier coller de l article? pke on peut pas le lire
Anonyme a dit…

Radical goes west to learn about Islam

Tunisian Fadhel Jaibi's play traces the making of an extremist. The
censor wanted 286 cuts, but Jaibi fought back.

By Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

November 12, 2007


TUNIS, TUNISIA -- Fadhel Jaibi sat in the half-light of his office
dressed in the hues of a threatening sky. Coffee appeared and the
playwright set the scene for his latest work.

It took him 20 uninterrupted minutes of fluid words and intonations, a
few dramatic pauses, a ripple of eyebrows to denote curious narrative
twists and then "boom" -- the character of an inspired and deranged
Islamist blows herself up to protest a government that no longer hears
its people.

"And this," he said, "is where our play begins."

One would have thought, with the coffee half-drunk and cold, that this
was where the play ended, but with Jaibi the subtext is just as
important as what makes it to the stage. It is often what we don't see
that defines who we are.

Censors prefer less insight, so when the men with red pens excised his
clever passages, Jaibi, who is effusive and suspicious, egoistic and
poetic, rode loudly into literary battle.

"I was warned this play was dangerous. The cultural minister wanted to
make 286 cuts. Words. Sentences. Paragraphs. Whole scenes," said
Jaibi, scratching gray stubble and adjusting his tortoise rimmed
glasses. "He said we couldn't speak of Islam, political police,
torture, or the left. Imagine a script that weighed 8 kilos cut down
to half a kilo."

Mon Dieu! Jaibi speaks in French, a remnant of Tunisia's colonial
past. The pain from the censor's demands still haunts his eyes.

"But the cultural minister," said Jaibi, spitting those last two words
out as if he's recollecting a lover caught in an affair, "made the
worst mistake of his life. He forced artists to get mobilized."

This is Tunisia, where fading European panache mixes with an Arab
regime that represses its citizens yet welcomes tourists, preferably
those carrying dollars and euros. Tunisians are shrewd about their
history, and the government of President Zine el Abidine ben Ali is
unnerved that fragments of it have slipped uncomfortably into the
present, such as how to suppress an Islamist revival in a nation that
already licenses mosques and spies on young men with beards.

Jaibi's new play, which has two names, "Hostage Bodies" or "50," which
connotes the 50th anniversary of Tunisian independence from France,
agitates the strands of recent history. The plot unfolds like origami,
but simply told the play is about how the daughter of Tunisian
leftists travels to Paris, gets radicalized by Islamists and returns
home as an Al Qaeda sympathizer amid a thicket of moral and political

"I like to deal with the here and now," Jaibi said. "This play
attempts to put Islamic extremism into context. . . . I understand the
dangers of fundamentalism."

What intrigues Jaibi are the ideological movements that challenge the
mainstream, be they leftists of the 1970s, of which he counts himself
as one, or the Islamists of today. He finds it interesting, if not
ironic, that many Muslims have embraced Islam not at home, but in
Western countries where religious and personal freedoms are more
protected than in the Middle East. This has led to jihadist networks,
especially in Europe, but more broadly it has resulted in a renewed
religious devotion among Muslim immigrant communities trying to retain
their culture while fitting into the West.

"Muslims can't learn about Islam in Tunisia. It doesn't exist. They
have to go to the West," he said. "For many Muslims, and this is the
paradox, Islam is a Western ideology. In the Arab world, Islamists are
crushed and oppressed. Only in exile do you find your identity."

For decades, Jaibi has traveled the world directing his plays --
Japan, France, etc. -- and he would often hear the same question: "But
can you show this kind of work in Tunisia?"

Yes, he could, but in some sense he felt he was being manipulated.
"People abroad think we Tunisians live in a democracy," he said. "But
the regime uses us as window dressing," allowing a few provocative
works to be staged to prove to the West that the country extols
freedom of expression.

Until, and this is where he smiles in a cutting blend of bemusement
and anger, he brought "Hostage Bodies" home this year after a
successful run in Paris, where, he said, he was hailed as courageous
for the "radicalism of my ideas." He performed the play before the
Tunisian Orientation Commission, a euphemism for censors. The members
liked the production, but the Cultural Ministry and a few political
hard-liners wanted a closer look at a script they believed trod too
close to the dangers facing the country today.

"In 34 years, I was never censored," Jaibi said. "We started
petitions. Opposition members backed us. Word went out through [text
messages] and the Internet. It spread around the world. The official
press accused me of being a bad citizen. It was debated in parliament
and went to the Senate. It took eight months, but I won."

Acts and lines were restored, but the government was firm on one
point: The suicide bomber explodes somewhere other than in front of
the Tunisian flag.

"I didn't want to change that, but I did and now the blast goes off in
front of red flowers, which happen to be the same color as the flag,"
he said with the mischievousness of a schoolboy or a man who pulled a
fast one on his boss.

The phone in the office rang. Jaibi answered it. The coffee was gone
and he had to prepare for another performance of "Hostage Bodies" at a
theater a few blocks from the secret-police headquarters at the
Ministry of Interior, which sits on a wide boulevard reminiscent of

"The official history of Tunisia is not the real history. We want the
real history," he said. "The truth is that the regime and the left
share responsibility for the rise of Islamic extremism. The regime
attacked the left and created a vacuum for the Islamists. But the
paradox is that now the secular left has formed an alliance with
Islamists to fight the regime."

A paradox.

Noha El-Hennawy of The Times' Cairo Bureau contributed to this report.
Anonyme a dit…
Je crois que l'article dont parle Zizou est celui du 30 novembre "Islamists emerge in stifled Tunisia".

Il est en accés libre mais en demande de s'enregistrer pour pouvoir le consulter.
Anonyme a dit…
Islamists emerge in stifled Tunisia

The nation, a tourist attraction, has long repressed religious and political freedoms. Underground radicalism is producing militants.

By Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

November 30, 2007

MENZEL BOURGUIBA, TUNISIA -- The jihad journey of the Nasri brothers began in this mud-splattered town where shipyards rust and umbrella sellers wait with mercenary fervor for storms to rumble in from across the lake.

The siblings' chain-reaction quest for holy war was ignited in 2003, when Qabil Nasri, a tall man with a sparse beard, was imprisoned on terrorism charges. His case radicalized his siblings, two of whom were arrested after sneaking into neighboring Algeria to train with Islamist militants. A third was caught before he crossed the mountainous border to join them. Nasri was freed in 2005; his brothers, including a former police officer, are still in prison.

The Nasri family saga poses troubling dilemmas for Tunisia, a U.S. ally whose beach resorts and cities emanating a bygone colonial charm are among the most popular tourist destinations in the Arab world.

The nation wears an intriguing facade. Women enjoy a degree of liberation, men in suits have their shoes polished while reading newspapers on the sidewalks -- and secret police slip in and out of lives like uninvited guests.

Decades of stifled religious and political freedoms have ignited two trends: an underground radicalism producing militants willing to wage jihad in Iraq, Afghanistan and Europe, and a more moderate, yet potent, religious yearning that can be seen in the increasing numbers of beards and head scarves in cafes and on university campuses.

The Nasri brothers and thousands of young Tunisians like them epitomize the intersection of ideological currents and technological wizardry fueling Islamic extremism across North Africa. Raised under the repression that has long defined their nation, and outraged by the Iraq war and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the brothers turned to satellite television and the Internet, where they found provocative mullahs and subversive websites beyond the reach of government censors.

"A young man cannot find true Islam in state-sanctioned religion," Nasri said. "So a young man, with all his power, starts searching for messages on TV and the Internet. . . . Young Tunisians are peaceful, but when we face pressures because we are religious, our thoughts start to change. Why are we subjected to this? Why are they attacking my religion? Eventually, a young man starts to think that his government is the enemy of Islam."

A Tunisian government official, who asked not to be named, acknowledged the rise in extremism, the dangerous prospect of battle-hardened Tunisian Islamic militants returning from Iraq and what he described as the "Internet seepage" of radical Islam.

"It's a great concern for all North Africans," he said. "But these Islamist militants don't have the appeal of the Islamists of decades past. They're a very radical sub-phenomenon. They are influenced by radical organizations that operate across borders. But our security forces are ready. We are careful and vigilant."

A Western diplomat who requested anonymity said, "I think the Tunisians are beginning to wake up. They used to see it as a blip: 'Let these young guys go to Iraq -- what do we care?' But now they're dealing with these guys coming home."

In 2005, about 300 Tunisians were jailed for religious-inspired militant activity. In the last year, that number has jumped to 2,000, mainly the result of a new Anti-Terror Law that has security forces scouring mosques and mountain crevices for suspected radicals, said Samir Ben Amor, a lawyer in Tunis, the capital, who represents dozens of alleged extremists.

This year, police killed more than 20 militants in a series of gun battles in a suburb of the capital and in mountains near the Algerian border. The extremists, including Tunisians and a Mauritanian, were part of a group that trained in Algeria and was allegedly planning attacks on the U.S. and other Western embassies in Tunis.

The Algerian connection was another indication of affiliations forming among militants across North Africa, most notably around the Algerian-based Salafist Group for Call and Combat, known by its French initials, GSPC.

The mobilizing passion for many young Tunisian Islamists is the Iraq war and the perception that their nation is a proxy in Washington's wider battle against the Muslim world. Defeating U.S. interests in Iraq and Afghanistan, their thinking goes, would weaken the regime of Tunisian President Zine el Abidine ben Ali, whose 20 years in power have been marked by frequent criticism from human rights groups over torture, random arrests and other harsh tactics of security forces.

"Despite the Tunisian government's attempts to ban the veil, beards, and to jail Islamists, there's a religious revival in the nation. The veil has swept the streets and the Islamists are here," Ben Amor said. "Ninety-five percent of Islamist terror- related cases involve young people who only started praying two to three years before their arrests. Government oppression at home and the Iraq war have turned them into time bombs."

Jamila Ayed slips two pictures out of her black purse. They are of the sons she has lost to Islamic militancy. The younger, Marwen, was studying business at a university when he left to fight in Iraq, where he died in Fallouja in 2004. The older, Maher, was an engineering student whose college ID card was confiscated by police, who told him he wouldn't get it back until he shaved off his beard. He is now serving a 10-year sentence for belonging to a terrorist organization. Ayed mourns her sons less than she celebrates what they have done.

"Our government doesn't have any sovereignty. It does the work of the Americans and the Zionists," she said. "The religious resurgence is much stronger here than it was in the 1990s. This new movement includes the rich and the poor, the rural and the city, and the religious and those who had not been religious before.

"My sons were depressed at Friday prayers and by the sermons they heard from government-controlled preachers. They looked for the true version of Islam on TV, the Internet and in banned books."

Ayed sat next to another mother, Noura Ben Slimene, whose pale, angular face seemed to glow against a black hijab. Her son, Anas, fought with the insurgency in Baghdad and died, she said, in a U.S. airstrike along the Iraqi-Syrian border.

"He came to me and said, 'I'm going to Iraq. I need my passport. I'm prepared to do this for God,' " Slimene said. "I felt the same way about the injustice he saw. I was convinced he was going to fight injustice. . . . In the neighborhood where I live, the police arrest many people who feel like my son."

Ayed gathered her pictures, and she and Slimene walked down a drizzly side street and into the gaze of President Ben Ali, whose image hovers on billboards and posters across the city. Ben Ali is everywhere, Tunisians say, in their neighborhoods, on the coastal cliffs, at the desert's rim, even in the ancient city of Carthage, where whitewashed homes with blue shutters look out into the haze at yachts and tankers crossing the Mediterranean.

Violence in the 1980s and early '90s prompted Ben Ali's government to arrest hundreds of Islamists and crack down on religious organizations, including the Nahda movement, whose leader, Rachid Ghannouchi, lives in exile in Britain. The government licensed mosques, banned religion-influenced political parties and stripped national identity cards from 10,000 to 15,000 suspected radicals. Human rights groups complained that the measures violated religious freedom.

"The radicalism today is the result of Tunisia not allowing even moderate Islam to exist," said Ali Larayedh, a member of Nahda who spent 14 years in prison. "But this radicalism is not a large part of the Islamist revival we're seeing in Tunisia. . . . The government is exaggerating the radical threat to justify the blockade it imposes on Islam."

A young man with a receding hairline sat in a windbreaker, his hands nervously folded. He would give his name only as Abdel. In 2003, he was one of six men and boys charged with downloading subversive Internet files and trying to make a bomb in the southern town of Zarzis. He was 17 when he went to prison and 20 when he was freed. The case became a national sensation, pitting a government wanting to show it was fighting terrorism against critics who claimed security forces were exaggerating Islamic threats and making arrests to impress the United States.

"The police said I was a Salafi, a radical. I didn't know what Salafi meant back then," Abdel said. "I was tortured. My face was paralyzed for a while. I signed some papers confessing to things, but I don't really know what I signed. The police still follow me. I've noticed young Tunisians have changed a lot since I went into prison. They have gone to either radical Islam or criminal delinquency."

Qabil Nasri stood the other day along a roadside near a pile of bricks on the outskirts of Menzel Bourguiba. Rain had come the night before; the fields were muddy, and the lake, separated from the Mediterranean by a rim of hills, was still.

The Greeks and the Phoenicians sailed these waters centuries ago. Then came the French and the Soviets, but the shipyards and the steel mill are not as busy as they once were, and young men gather in clumps at the Cafe Flamenco.

There was no coffee-shop idling for Nasri. In 2003, he crossed Tunisia's rugged terrain and was arrested at the Algerian border, where he was charged with belonging to a terrorist group. He said he wanted to fight with the Palestinians, but police said the leaders of his group were planning terrorist attacks in Tunisia.

Nasri has remained defiant. Because his young face wears a light beard, most employers, under government pressure, will not hire him. He often violates parole by not reporting to police stations, each time spending a month in prison.

Discussing his frustration, Nasri paused as two men came across the field and tried to eavesdrop.

"In prison, the guards and interrogators insulted God in front of me," he said. "They wanted to take my religion."

Noha El-Hennawy of The Times' Cairo Bureau contributed to this report.
Anonyme a dit…
How chab3a anonyme fel post adha .
Aya na3mlou groupe ?
Anonyme a dit…
Tres juste ce qui est dis:

""The radicalism today is the result of Tunisia not allowing even moderate Islam to exist," said Ali Larayedh, a member of Nahda who spent 14 years in prison.""

"""In prison, the guards and interrogators insulted God in front of me," he said. "They wanted to take my religion.""
Anonyme a dit…
Je me suis permis d’ajouter ton excellent blog à la liste des sites lus par ce nouvel aggrégateur ..
Anonyme a dit…
Excellent article. Thanks for sharing

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