Tunisia is a dynamic country which is continuously transforming. It is one of the very first countries to be involved in the Arab Spring. In 2014, it adopted a new constitution that has created a modern legal system, freedom of belief and conscience, freedom of expression, and freedom of press, association and strike. Moreover, the equality of rights and duties and equal opportunities between men and women are crucial to the country’s future, as reaffirmed in the Constitutional Charter that resolves to place women as protagonists in the Tunisian economic development.
This rise in assurances in the field of civil rights of the population is accompanied by a worrying growth in the phenomenon of radicalisation of young Tunisians. In the era of new technologies and social media, this phenomenon is being spread by an important tool of dissemination for an aggressive propaganda in favour of radical Islamist movements. In fact, Tunisia is one of the 10 countries from which the largest number of tweets in support of ISIS are originated.
Important research centres (Foreign Policy, Brooking Institute, ISPI) identify Tunisia as one of the main launchpads for many foreign fighters ready to fight alongside al-Nusra and ISIS (more than 3,000 in 2015, and 22,000 according to American sources).
In March 2017, together with our local partner IDH (Institut du Développement Humain), we distributed around 400 questionnaires amongst young people from 12 Tunisian regions. It is evident from the data collected that the phenomenon of ‘radicalisation’ is more pronounced in the suburbs of Tunis. The research clearly shows the connection between poverty and the risk of radicalisation. This is an important finding, seeing as 32% (double the European average) of the young people aged 15-24 do not have a job and do not attend school (data fromInternational Labor Organization).
These are just some of the reasons that prompted us to commence activities for the prevention of violent extremism among Tunisian teenagers and young people, through peace education. Furthermore, our actions promote socio-economic empowerment and gender equality, thus strengthening the crucial and active role that women can play against radicalisation through training opportunities for at-risk youth. These training opportunities help them in learning about sustainable businesses, thus making their integration in the inclusive labour market easier.