The closed doors of Tunis Cathedral

For several months, the cathedral of Tunis has kept its doors closed because of a security decision.

The main access to the place of worship is closed while the faithful and visitors must enter the cathedral through a back door.

Two problems are easily observable. First of all, the cathedral is strictly locked or even placed in the shade of the military tanks which are installed in front of the building.


On the other hand, the police control for those who come to pray or simply visit, should be lightened so as not to offend sensitivities and not to institute a police investigation at the entrance to what is first and foremost a house of God.

Many Christians living in Tunisia complain of being interrogated before entering the church and deplore the presence of armed guards at the threshold of their church.

Similarly, many Muslims, young and old, have seen intimidation from officers on duty who question them instead of just welcoming them.

What to say ? Is this closed cathedral a positive sign for Tunisia’s image and its spirit of tolerance? Are we facing religious segregation practiced in the name of security? Why such a heavy device when the one that existed before had been effective for years?

In the meantime, attendance at the cathedral is experiencing a spectacular drop, which is causing a great deal of concern for the Catholic faith, which finds itself, despite its tradition, placed under the sign of forbidden hospitality.

These arbitrary and imposed closures are not a positive sign either for freedom of worship or for living together.

By Hatem BOURIAL is a Tunisian writer, journalist and cultural mediator. He is also the author of 14 books on Tunisian memory and heritage.