Experiences of young people in Tunis

In March, International Alert hosted a book launch and photo exhibition in the Tunisian capital of Tunis about the experiences and perceptions of young people in the city’s suburbs of Douar Hicher and Ettadhamen.

The book, Les jeunes de Douar Hicher et d’Ettadhamen. Une enquête sociologique, presents the findings of a joint study led by Olfa Lamloum of International Alert (pictured below, middle) and Mohamed Ali Ben Zina of Arabesques. The launch of the book took place at Maison de l’Image on 12 March 2015 and was accompanied by an exhibition on the same theme by photographer Francis Hugh.

For a while now, the impoverished and marginalised neighbourhoods of Douar Hicher and Ettadhamen have remained a ‘terra incognita’ (unknown land) in Tunisia, due to various obstacles preventing any on-the-ground research. But last year Alert’s team in Tunisia were able to spend ten months undertaking entirely new research on young people in these areas, through a quantitative and qualitative survey.

Whilst the dominant media narrative tends to reduce Douar Hicher and Ettadhamen to outbreaks of ‘Salafist violence’, the book offers a different perspective on these young people, highlighting the complexity of their social lives and offering them the opportunity to speak for themselves. In this way, it enables us to see and understand their current behaviours and discover the social, political and religious attitudes that underpin their daily lives. Furthermore, it sheds light on the lived reality for many people in Tunisia today, which is largely unknown and often deliberately ignored.

Alert’s Mehdi Barhoumi recently spoke about the research findings on Radio Tunis Chaîne International and you can read an interview here with Alert’s Olfa Lamloum(in French), one of the authors of the book. The preliminary findings of the quantitative survey are available in English in Alert’s report, Experiences and perceptions of young people in Tunisia.

The authors would like to thank the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office for funding this work, as well as the governorates of Ariana and Manouba, the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Centre for Defence and Social Integration, and the municipalities of Douar Hicher and Ettadhamen for their support. In addition, their thanks go to the organisations Ettahadi, Sanabil al-Khayr and Le Développement à Mnihla, who helped organise the focus group discussions, as well as Arbi Dridi, who transcribed and translated all the interviews conducted as part of the study. Finally, they are hugely grateful to all the young people of Douar Hicher and Ettadhamen who were willing to answer their questions.

For further information about the study, please contact Olfa Lamloum at olamloum@international-alert.org. Please note that the book contains analyses from various authors and therefore does not necessarily reflect the views of International Alert.

You can find out more about our work in Tunisia here.

Photos © Maison de l’image