Street Art in Honor of 100 Years of LaMarsa, Tunisia (Photo)

LaMarsa

Photo by Juan Cole, LaMarsa, Tunisia, May 2012

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In May, the upscale neighborhood of LaMarsa in the northeast of Tunis commemorated the hundredth anniversary of its founding. A street was blocked off, with contemporary Tunisian rock music playing and street artists chalking the street, and local artists displaying their works. Many exulted in Free Tunisia (La Tunisie libre or al-Tunis al-hurrah) I thought these three pieces made an interesting triptych!

About a month later, a small group of hard line Salafi fundamentalists disrupted an art exhibit in LaMarsa that they deemed religiously offensive. For more on this incident and the art involved, see this report by Cornell’s Middle East Collection Blog. I think it was mainly a stunt; it is not as though Salafis are numerous in Tunisia or as if anyone in La Marsa cares what they think. Some 58% of seats in parliament went to secular or centrist parties and individuals in October, 2011, and if the Salafis go on this way they may well push the country, as with Libya, toward the secular nationalists.

One response

  1. Hello, Dr. Cole-

    I am an avid longtime reader of your website. I once thought I saw you in San Francisco and emailed asking if it was you (it was not haha). I am going to Tunisia next week with my ladyfriend and was hoping I could ask your recommendations on travelling to the country, in terms of places to see, customs to know. I do not speak Arabic and do not know much of the Tunisian culture save what I learn on your website. Also, my ladyfriend is wondering if there are any novels on Tunisia that might help her understand the culture you would recommend. Keep up the fantastic work. Ps,I really enjoy your translations of Omar Khayyam.

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