Tags in Tunisia

Today, one of the biggest gains of Tunisia's revolution is "more or less", the freedom of expression. However, even with the continuous censorship or the Police oppression in the demonstrations, tags have become the creative way of Tunisians to get their voices be heard... Say whatever you want to people anonymously without arguing or debating... just get the message to hundreds and hundreds of people everyday....

Tunisians are tagging quotes, showing pluralism, diversity of people's backgrounds and ideologies and the enriching difference in the community.

  -ارادة الشعوب تكره المزاح"- مظفر النواب
The will of the people hates jokes -Muzaffar Al-Nawab-            
Then, due to the mistrust that have been built between the people and the Police, many tags addressed the Police.

 من السهل على الرجل أن يصبح شرطياً لكن من صعب  أن يصبح الشرطي رجل
"Easy for a Man to become a policeman but it's difficult for a policeman to be a Man"

 "من السهل أن يصبح الشرطي رجل لكن في احلامكم "
" It is easy for a policeman to be a Man but in your dreams"

"Fuck Police"

"Police de Merde"

Tunisians were closely watching and immediately reacting to all the updates in Tunisia.During the second illegal provisional government, some tags like "Sebsi Dégage" have been seen around,

Then following Ennhda majority in power, a lot of tags attacked the party such as;

Tunisians are also communicating through tags, like the picture of Edward which was tagged  as"كافر" atheist. Edward Said who has meant to the first tagger advocate for human rights,it has meant to second tagger an atheist who should not been followed as we are believers and mainly Muslims.

The last tags that have been remarkable these days are the ones reminding Mai 1st, which is the coming Labor Day. 
"1_Mai_012 Habib Bourguiba"                                                       "Be on Time 01-05-2012"

        "The street is for the People"   
Aya Chebbi Photography


Anonymous said…
Wow! What a great documentation! Finally Graffity, or Tags are seen as a means of communication. In the former regime people could have done it, but pedastrians might have just looked away cause even showing interest in free speech was suspicious.
And: I have seen even more tags with realy realy good quotes!
Concerning Edward Said: it is said in the blog that he was an advocat for human rights.
Mainly he is known as the author of a book called "Orientalism". In it he unmasks the eurocentric picture of the Orient as unequal to the Orient itself.
His Book is from 1978 and the times are different now but his book still is essential for every european that is concerned with oriental studies.
Edward Said is of American-Palastinian origin. I don't know maybe he saw himself as "Muslim" and not as "Kafir". At least he was an advocate for Palestinian rights.
But what were the aims of the two taggers? I guess tagger one who did the stencil in the first place wanted to raise awarness for E.Saids theory to not follow the "kufar" (sing. kafir) and their eurocentric views and interests in any arab-muslim cause.
While tagger 2, who added the epigraph "kafir" mainly wanted to say the same thing. To put in a taggish language he said" fuck europeans".
To me I find tags signs of vivid cultural debates. Yet, needles to say, I do not agree with the majority of writings on the walls. But I guess that's why people write it on the wall - because it's provovative.
Ok, I could go on and on writing about E.Said, Orientalism and wrtitings on the walls.
It's good to know that I am not the only person seeing these writings.
PS: The "Fuck Police" tags are most probably made by "Ultras" fans of soccer clubs that have a steady battle with the police. One of their paroles is "A.C.A.B." ("all cops are bastards")
Aya Chebbi said…
Hey Martin,

The first paper I read for Edward Said was "The Clash of Ignorance" then I read his famous orientalism among many other papers and books. True, he is an advocate for Palestinian rights among other advocacy for Muslims for instance, though he is not a muslim himself and so this is why to say he is a human rights advocate.

We would never know what exactly the first tagger wanted to deliver as a message but we can guess at least. When you say Said's theory is to not follow the "kufar", I don't get your point because that wasn't what Edward Said stands for, he doesn't believe in God himself if we would talk about "kafir"! Said usually wanted to change the attitude/prjudice of westerns towards the Middle East and predominately Muslim societies.

The second tag"Kafir" was tagged few months later after the first which is targeting the figure itself"Edward Said" which is to say what you're taking as an example here is himself a "kafir". Usually the second or third tag on the original one is a comment or a correction according to the tagger ideology.

I really find it interesting how people reply to each other through these tags.

For the police, these tags have been seen during the revolution and the area where I found the tags doesn't seem to be for soccer. You may find such tags on stadium walls if the message would be delivered for the reason you mentioned .However, I can assure you that these tags meant the police that have oppressed demonstrations and violently treated citizens many times.
Anonymous said…
Thank you Aya,
I expressed myself wrong. It wasn't Said's Theory to not follow the Kufar. I want to say that -maybe- that was the intension of the first tagger. The one who did the protrait of E.Said.

I did another mistake. I called the technique of the portrait "stencil". Now I looked a bit closer. It looks like the portrait is scratched into concrete. Great technique.
I wouldn't call that a simple tag anymore. Works like these I usually label with the term "street art".

Anonymous said…
So far as the United States seems to be concerned, it is only a slight overstatement to say that Muslims and Arabs are essentially seen as either oil suppliers or potential terrorists. Very little of the detail, the human density, the passion of Arab-Moslem life has entered the awareness of even those people whose profession it is to report the Arab world. What we have instead is a series of crude, essentialized caricatures of the Islamic world presented in such a way as to make that world vulnerable to military aggression.
—Edward Said, The Nation

This quote I copied from the english wikipedia article on "Orientalism"

Regards -Martin
Anonymous said…
Freedom of Expression is everyone's universal right and it should be fight for when ever denied. The Tunisians have proven that by fighting and standing up for their rights. Congratulations!!!
Aya.Chebbi said…
Thank you "Anonymous" I don't know your name and where do you come from but you'll welcome to Tunisia :)
Anonymous said…
I'm Tarnue from Liberia.
Aya.Chebbi said…
Dear Tarnue :) thnx for the comment, coming soon to Kenya so that we can meet up again ;)
Anonymous said…
OK! I have somethings that we need to discuss about a coming up project proposal to the global fund.


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