Tunisian conservation after the Arab Spring


This video says about itself:

20 January 2017

Watch our short documentary about the Bou Hedma National Park! in June 2016 we released this short film “Forgotten places of Tunisia – Wild Bou Hedma”. It is an appeal to save this unique wild habitat and endangered species.

The Bou Hedma NP has never enjoyed a fraction of the support it deserves from government. It has always been treated as an afterthought, falling victim to the misguided philosophy that it should cost very little to maintain a mountain range, an acacia savannah or threatened native wildlife species.

Please share this video and help to save one of Tunisia’s last wild and exceptional habitats. The park is not going to survive unless we can convince more people of its value. I think we need to make a better case that Bou Hedma NP needs more resources, more love, more attention and more active scientists and researchers. We should not let things come so far as to be lost forever.

By Shaun Hurrell:

11 Aug 2017

After the Arab Spring: Learning to love nature again

From “protect by punishment” to “protect by involving people”: read about the peaceful revolution that is changing nature conservation in North Africa and the Middle East

Our relationship with nature is dependent on more than the way the wind blows and the flowers bloom. During a period of societal turmoil, for example, nature can become an unlikely political symbol.

In Tunisia, Awatef Abiadh saw it happen during the Arab Spring: “The Protected Area system was established by the government without any consultation with local communities”, she says. “Declared by law. Full-stop.”

As such, during the Tunisian revolution, people turned their resentment of an oppressive regime to collateral damage. “Locals ransacked Ichkeul, Bouhedma and Chaambi National Parks, taking threatened species like oryx and gazelle, and cutting many trees in anger against the government”, she recalls.

For Abiadh, this showed there was a lack of harmony between local people and nature across the region, and today inspires her work for the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), which has invested in bringing people together for conservation in the Mediterranean for the last five years.

“I grew up in the countryside in Kairouan where I learned my first lessons about nature,” says Abiadh. “We needed to use and exploit nature to earn our life, but we loved it and kept it close.”

Abiadh started a career as a teacher, but in 2007 whilst working as a lecturer, she became involved with a series of wildlife surveys on Tunisian islands, because her supervisor was seasick and suggested she go instead.

Volunteering and a passion for conservation followed, and today she works as the Programme Officer for North Africa for the CEPF Mediterranean Hotspot, granting projects and helping non-governmental organisations (NGOs), large and new, with their social and environmental challenges.

“Since we started in the hotspot, we have contributed to a 180-degree change in conservation, from ‘protect by punishment’, to ‘protect by involving more local peoplee’”, she says.

The project closest to her heart, and family home, is led by Notre Grand Bleu (NGB; “Our Big Blue”), a local group of nature enthusiasts and divers that emerged out of the Arab Spring into a fully-fledged NGO, and were granted by CEPF to protect the Kuriat Islands – and their Endangered turtles – from bad tourist management and fishing.

Kuriat is a positive story of hope, where NGB succeeded in forming the first ever co-managed committee for nature conservation in Tunisia. Jamel Jrijer, NGB, said: “Engaging locals in conservation activities gives them a sense of belonging and creates commitment to good environmental practice.”

Together with 18 stakeholders including government, research, tourism, and fishing, NGB are close to creating a Marine Protected Area that everyone is behind. Whilst the Arab Spring helped mobilise North African civil society, some organisations of course already existed.

AREA-ED, in neighbouring Algeria, was founded in 1998 and has worked to create the National Parks Babor and Tadabort, providing crucial high-altitude habitat for an endemic and Critically Endangered Algerian fir tree, resident fluffy monkeys, barbary macaque (Endangered), and bark-climbing Algerian Nuthatch Sitta ledanti (Endangered) – all threatened by fire, illegal logging and overgrazing.

A CEPF project in 2014 allowed AREA-ED to work in new ways. “Both of these projects are the first times a participatory approach has been used in creating protected areas in North Africa,” says Abiadh. One lesson that has emerged from all 106 CEPF grants in the Mediterranean is that nature conservation is a powerful way of bringing diverse people together, and even just time spent in nature can be transformational for some.

When you see the smiles on people’s faces at a turtle hatchling release on the Kuriat Islands, it’s easy to understand; but perhaps nowhere is it more important than in trying to rebuild a country in civil war: Libya. …

Despite a low level of species endemism (4% unique to the country) Libya certainly has some great natural assets. With nearly 200 km of Mediterranean coast and a vast semi-arid region leading to the Sahara Desert, there are coral reefs, ponds and mangroves; plus salt marshes and mud flats for migratory birds. “Ecotourism is a realistic opportunity for Libya once conditions allow,” says Abiadh.

Sadly, ever since NATO’s 2011 war on Libya, conditions clearly do not allow.

“Wherever people have free time, they enjoy spending it in nature. In Tunisia, we have ecotourism projects that are still receiving a lot of local visitors, and from abroad e.g. Algeria.”

Tunisian fishermen stop neonazi anti-refugee ship


Tunisian fishermen gather on August 6, 2017 in the port of Zarzis in southeastern Tunisia to protest against a possible berthing of the neonazi anti-refugee C-Star vessel (AFP Photo/FATHI NASRI)

From AFP news agency:

Tunisian fishermen stall ‘racist’ anti-migrant ship’s progress

Giovanni GREZZI

August 6, 2017

ABOARD the MS AQUARIUS – Fishermen at a Tunisian port on Sunday prevented a ship carrying far-right anti-immigration activists from docking, dealing a fresh blow to a controversial mission aimed at disrupting the flow of migrant boats from north Africa to Europe.

Faced with the prospect of being blocked by the fishermen in Zarzis, the ship, the C-Star, moved up the Tunisian coast, and was expected by opponents tracking its path to try to land at either Sfax or Gabes on Monday.

Chartered by extremist group “Generation Identity“,

“Generation Identity”, like “alt-right“, is just a new name for old Hitlerite nazism. These C-Star fascists who want violence against refugees fleeing from NATO’s wars to Europe are Holocaust denialists.

According to Dutch NOS TV today, canoeists and water cyclists helped the fishermen block Zarzis harbour for the racist ship.

the C-Star passed through waters off Libya on Saturday.

It briefly tailed the Aquarius, operated by French group SOS Mediterranee, one of several NGO boats conducting search and rescue operations in an area notorious for deadly migrant boat sinkings.

Having left Cyprus on August 1, the 40-metre (130-foot) C-Star needs to land in Tunisia for supplies but appeared to have been caught off guard by the strength of opposition among local fishermen, as well as rights groups.

“If they come here we’ll close the refuelling channel,” Chamseddine Bourassine, the head of the local fishermen’s organisation, told AFP.

“It is the least we can do given what is happening out in the Mediterranean,” he added.

“Muslims and Africans are dying.”

An official at the port, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “What? Us let in racists here? Never!”

– 10,000 dead –

The C-Star headed straight from Cyprus to Libyan waters after being discouraged from attempting to dock en route in Greece and Sicily, with authorities concerned about the prospect of protests.

The self-styled “Defend Europe” mission has not got off to the best of starts.

Their boat was held up for a week in the Suez Canal by Egyptian authorities looking for weapons.

Then, after it landed in the Cypriot port of Famagusta last month, several of its crew jumped ship and asked for asylum in Europe — exactly the kind of thing the mission was set up to prevent. …

Humanitarian groups say Generation Identity is engaged in a publicity stunt and that any attempt to turn migrant boats back to Libya would be potentially very dangerous and illegal under international law.

Since the start of 2014, some 600,000 people from Africa, the Middle East and South Asia have been rescued from traffickers’ boats and taken to Italy.

Over 10,000 have died en route and serial sinkings have resulted in privately funded or charity-run boats joining a multinational search and rescue operation coordinated by Italy’s coastguard.

NGO boats have rescued around one-third of the nearly 100,000 people picked up this year, but their relations with Italy have become strained as pressure to stem the flow of migrants has mounted. …

Rights organisations have voiced concern over the focus on sending boats back to Libya, where migrants who fail to get to Europe often end up in detention in squalid camps where they risk torture, sexual violence and forced labour. …

The crisis has also caused strains in Rome’s relations with its EU neighbours, who have blocked migrants landing in Italy from travelling further north.

See also here.

The latest news from today is that the neonazi ship does not sail any more, but has been, and still is, stranded for over a day, miles off the Tunisian coast.

Failed Defend Europe mission comes to an end. 17/08/2017 – Joe Mulhall: here.

NATO war brought ISIS to Libya, Tunisia, Tunisian Prime Minister says


This video from London, England says about itself:

Jeremy Corbyn – Emergency Protest – Stop the Bombing of Libya Now! – Stop the War Coalition 20.03.11

From daily The Independent in Britain:

War on Isis: Tunisian PM says Britain has a responsibility to protect nation from militants

Exclusive: Habib Essid blames Western intervention for destabilising Libya

Yasmine Ryan, Ian Johnston

Wednesday 05 August 2015

Britain has a responsibility to stop Isis from infiltrating Tunisia, the country’s Prime Minister has said, because the UK is partly to blame for creating the violent chaos that allowed the extreme Islamist movement to flourish in neighbouring Libya.

In an interview with The Independent, Habib Essid blamed Western intervention in Libya, which helped bring about the downfall of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, for destabilising that country and leaving his nation more vulnerable to terrorism.

He spoke as British police said the attack in the Tunisian resort of Sousse in June that left 30 British tourists dead was almost certainly linked to a mass shooting at the Bardo Museum in Tunis in March.

Mr Essid said the UK and France, which led the air campaign against Gaddafi’s forces, were not solely to blame for the current turmoil in Libya, but they had been “part of the problem”. Asked if this meant Britain and France had a responsibility to help Tunisia police its border with Libya, he said: “They have responsibility. Terrorism has no borders.”

However Mr Essid stressed that Tunisia was “against all military intervention in Libya”. “We consider that the current situation is the result of the [2011] intervention, which created chaos. The solution must be a political solution,” he said. …

The Sousse and Bardo shootings, which killed a total of 60 people, have both been claimed by Isis. Commander Richard Walton, of the Metropolitan Police, said there were “strong” links between the two attacks.

See also here.

LIBYA: THE ‘FALLBACK OPTION’ FOR ISIS “Iraqi commanders have been arriving from Syria, and the first public beheadings have started. The local radio stations no longer play music but instead extol the greatness of the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.” [NYT]

‘US meddling in Mid-East led to rise of radical extremism’: here.

Hillary Clinton’s Libya: here.

After last week’s mass protests against unemployment and poverty throughout Tunisia, the French government has announced €1 billion aid over the next five years to its former colony: here.

Tunisian airline stops flights to Tripoli, Libya, in November 2011


This video says about itself:

Inside Story – The dangers facing female migrants in Libya

11 May 2015

In a report titled Libya Is Full of Cruelty, the rights group Amnesty International details the conditions for women in the war-torn North African country. Amnesty says they are constantly subjected to the added danger of sexual violence. Traffickers sexually abuse female migrants as they make their desperate and treacherous journey towards Europe.

Presenter: Richelle Carey Guests: Magda Mughrabi, Libya researcher for Amnesty International and author of the report. Soraya Chemaly, writer and media critic whose work is focused on sexualised violence. Anna Zobnina, chair of the European Network of Migrant Women.

November 2011: According to Tunisia Live, Tunisian airline Tunisair has stopped flying to Tripoli, Libya; as at that airport, 300 armed men had attacked one of its aircraft.

Libyan Amazigh demonstrate in Tripoli for second time in three days against exclusion from the new government: here.

Libyan women rally for rape victim support: here.

Tunisian ex-dictator Ben Ali’s Western friends: here.

Tunisian solidarity with Egyptian democrats, 2011


This 2011 video from Egypt says about itself:

Egyptian Body Politic: Adaptation of #Tahrir

from Laila Shereen

AN ANIMATED ADAPTATION OF “The Dream” by Alaa Abd El-Fattah, translated by Lina Attalah, 2011. Voice narration by VJ Um Amel.

A SOUNDTRACK REMIX OF “Immortal Egypt Revolution Dub” by DJ Zhao, “Amble ambience” by VJ Um Amel, KPCC radio interview of VJ Um Amel on November 23, 2011, and voice overs.

A VISUAL REMIX OF YouTube videos, Twitter data, R-Shief’s visualizations of 1.25 million tweets on #Tahrir over 23 days in November, and 1.23 million tweets on #NOSCAF over the same date range. Cartoon by Carlos Latuff, “in honour of martyr Shehab Ahmed, killed by SCAF forces in #Nov20″.

In Tunisia, demonstrators express solidarity with Egyptian democrats, attacked by the pro-United States military junta.

Egyptian workers’ solidarity with Tahrir Square: here.

Moroccan women protest anti-miniskirt policies


This French language video is about a 6 July 2015 demonstration by women in Tunis, Tunisia, for the right to wear a miniskirt.

After a maxiskirt ban in Belgium and France … and after a shorts ban for women in Israel … after miniskirt bans in Italy, New York City, and Hungary … now Morocco.

From Morocco World News:

Moroccan Women Wear Mini-skirts in Protest Against Arrest of Two Women

Saturday 27 June 2015 – 09:52

Rabat- Many Moroccan women are publishing pictures of themselves wearing mini-skirts to show solidarity with two women facing charges of “gross indecency”.

Several Moroccan women turned out for the protest against the arrest of two women in Inezgane, a suburb of the southern city of Agadir. The two women were arrested “gross indecency” for wearing “tight and immoral” clothes.

Women participating in the virtual protest posted pictures of themselves on social media wearing miniskirts to support the two women—hairdressers aged 23 and 29– whose trial has been set for July 16.

“Although I believe that online campaigns do not result in a significant impact, but I decided to participate in solidarity with the two victims, and also because I myself suffer from harassment when I wear short clothes,” one woman who participated in the campaign told news website Hespress.

“Wearing a skirt is not an offence against the society’s public morals and does not question its history and traditions,” another woman told the Arabic-speaking website. It is a component of identity and a symbol of femininity that has existed since ages.”

“What has changed is the way we look at women which must be changed because women are part of the process of building the country and not a subject of guardianship. Criminalizing the wearing of skirts will only lead to the legitimization of violence against women,” she added.

Three sit-ins are also expected to be held this week in Agadir, Rabat and Casablanca to denounce the trial of the two women.

Two Facebook pages have been created to support the ordeal of the two young women. In both of them, many Moroccan women share pictures of themselves wearing minis-skirts with the hash tag “mettre une robe n’est pas un crime (wearing a skirt is not crime).

Yesterday, 6 July 2015, the two women appeared in court. There were solidarity demonstrations with them in various Moroccan cities.

An Internet petition supporting the right of Moroccan women to wear miniskirts is here.

Opposition to miniskirts is colonialist: Zimbabwe vice president: here.