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Attalaki’s celebrates the completion of its project “Let’s Talk about Religious Freedom”

Attalaki's celebrates the completion of its project "Let's Talk about Religious Freedom"

On January 28th, 2023, a closing ceremony for the “L’ts Talk about Religious Freedom” project was held in the Capital of Tunisia. The event was attended by more than 100 guests from different regions, and the project was implemented by the Attalaki organization with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The ceremony was distinguished by the opening speech delivered by the head of Attalaki, Rashed Massoud Hafnaoui, who expressed his happiness for the success of the project and achieving its goals. He thanked the support provided by the USAID and everyone who participated and helped in the success of this project. The head of Attalaki also talked about the challenges and obstacles faced during the project’s implementation and the means used to overcome them. Ms. Kathleen Maher, the Deputy Head of the USAID Mission, also gave a speech at the event, expressing the pride of the USAID in the success of this project and the support provided to the Attalaki organization, especially since it is the first Tunisian association to receive direct funding from the US government through USAID.

This event was organized to present the results of a project that has been implemented for almost two years in close partnership with USAID and the Attalaki Organization. The project aims to create a free space for constructive and open dialogue among various stakeholders, such as youth, religious leaders, researchers, human rights organizations, and civil society groups, with important participation from religious minorities that face discriminatory practices and restrictions that violate Tunisia’s commitments under international human rights treaties and the Tunisian Constitution.

As part of this project, a series of 12 workshops were held, covering all regions of Tunisia, allowing 244 participants to interact and contribute to various discussions related to religious freedom, peaceful coexistence, and hate speech.

On the other hand, Attalaki organization presented a quantitative and qualitative study on “The Reality of Religious Freedoms in Tunisia” from sociological, constitutional, and legal perspectives, which was prepared simultaneously with the implementation of the project. This study included the distribution of a survey questionnaire between April and September 2022, in which a research sample of approximately 1740 respondents from different age groups and educational levels participated. The aim was to discover the Tunisian society’s perceptions of religious freedom, particularly the issue of diversity and differences in general.

The results of this study were presented by the researcher in religious studies, Sabrine Jlassi, the professor of public law and political science, Khaled Dabbabi, and the professor of public law, Ikram Dridi. Sabrine Jlassi stated that “religious freedom is a concept that many Tunisians have not grasped,” noting that the sample surveyed mostly “rejects the principle of equality among citizens regardless of religion or ideology, rejects freedom to change religion and marry non-Muslims, and refuses to bury non-Muslims in Muslim cemeteries or allocate separate cemeteries for them, or their right to a place of worship.”

She explained that 43% of respondents (a representative sample of all segments) “expressed their explicit opposition to full equality among citizens, regardless of their religions,” pointing out that this percentage increases further in relation to equality in inheritance, as 59% of respondents were against equality in inheritance. This suggests, according to her estimation, that “the conservative Muslim majority does not see gender equality as fundamental to its creed, but finds more than one reason to reject it, including social customs derived from religious heritage.”

The social science researcher further clarified that 67% of respondents “acknowledge that violations and discrimination based on religion and belief affect women and men equally,” indicating that “despite the period of post-revolution openness, which included some freedom, especially freedom of expression, this freedom automatically fades away when it comes to religious and doctrinal matters.”

She considered that the legislative and judicial system in Tunisia “represents the product of a juristic thought that has produced accumulations that prevent actual and real coexistence of religious groups,” confirming that “54% of respondents reject building places of worship for non-Muslims, and 57% reject teaching other monotheistic religions.”

Ikram Dridi, on the other hand, explained that “despite the reliance of the Tunisian state on positive laws, the executive authority has drawn the content of its work from Islamic law, creating a serious confusion between what is legal and positive and what is juristic and legitimate.”

On his part, Professor Khaled Dabbabi emphasized that the establishment of a true rule of law based on full citizenship and non-discrimination requires primarily the development of a state policy that combines the efforts of all stakeholders and official parties in order to ensure a real democratic system based on transparency, accountability, efficiency, equality before the law, and the protection of rights, freedoms, and human dignity. He noted that the judiciary plays a pivotal and important role in promoting human rights in its entirety and comprehensiveness, and therefore a judicial system must provide the basic guarantees for respecting and preventing violations of these rights, so that they do not become mere declarations of intent with no impact on life. He stressed the need for judges to uphold the supremacy of the constitution and international treaties to which their country is a signatory, and to break away from the application of Islamic law in favor of positive laws. He also called for the protection of freedoms and rights instead of restricting them whenever there is room for interpretation and discretionary power of the judge, and for neglecting the application of legal provisions that are in conflict with the constitution and international treaties until they are amended.

This celebration ended with fruitful discussions among participants, but it also formed a favorable opportunity for dialogue in a safe and peaceful space where everyone felt appreciated and respected for their identities and affiliations by the organizers and supervisors of the organization. Some participants emphasized the necessity of continuing to work towards consolidating these concepts that have remained ambiguous and incomprehensible to a wide segment of Tunisians, praising the courage shown by the team of the Talaqi organization in presenting such topics that have remained taboo due to fear of societal, governmental, and religious reactions. Especially since the “Let’s talk about Religious Freedom” project was not limited to implementation in provinces close to the capital, but extended to provinces that are considered closed and more conservative in the far southeast, west, northwest, and center. They called on the Attalaki organization and Tunisia’s international partners to continue supporting such projects as they break away from the stereotypes that portray differences as a danger threatening society and its cohesion.

By: Abdelaziz Antar

achivement blog

The signing of the first charter between the various religious groups in Tunisia



The signing of the first charter between the various religious groups in Tunisia


On Wednesday, January 26, 2022, the Tunisian organization “Attalaki” organized the signing of the National Charter for Peaceful Coexistence, in the presence of representatives of different religions and sects in the country.

Karim Chniba, spokesman for the “National Charter for Peaceful Coexistence“, said during a press conference in the city of La Marsa in the northern suburbs of the capital, Tunis, that the signing of the charter “came as a result of work for 3 years after a series of dialogue sessions,” noting that the agreement “is moral and does not have any legal obligations or consequences”, adding that “there is a danger facing minorities from different sects, given that some of them work in secret and in an illegal and unorganized framework.”

“The Tunisian citizens have the right, according to the text of the constitution, international charters and treaties, to establish their religious rites,” he added, stressing that the charter “seeks to give an alternative image to the existing conflict, and to confirm that all religions and sects are in harmony and in a permanent dialogue.”

This agreement comes from their belief, according to their press statement, that religious and sectarian diversity in human societies does not justify conflict and clash but calls for the establishment of a human bond that makes this diversity a bridge for dialogue, understanding, and cooperation to serve man and the nation.

For her part, the General Secretary of Attalaki Organization, Mrs. Basma Maria Baccari, she acknowledged that a number of religious minorities in Tunisia have been subjected to violations and great difficulties in their daily lives, even though the Tunisian citizens have the right, according to the constitution, international charters, and treaties, to establish their religious rites.

She emphasized that there are Tunisian citizens who resort to concealing their religious identity for fear of persecution and restrictions, which in itself is considered a danger to freedoms and to human beings in general. She added that there is rejection within the family and society, especially towards Christians from Muslim backgrounds, which has reached the point of exhuming graves, explaining, “All this comes in the absence of clear legislation protecting human dignity and rights from persecution and discrimination based on religion.”

Nadra Bannour, respnsible for the relations with civil society and religious minorities within the Ministry of Religious Affairs, stated that the charter is monitored by the ministry, as well as emphasizing that the ministry is open to such initiatives, highlighting the important role of CSOs in establishing the values of peaceful coexistence in the national context.

Years of Fear and Hate

In his turn, Daniel Cohen, Rabbi of the Jewish Synagogue in La Goulette, told Al-Ain News on the sidelines of the signing ceremony that the history of the Jews of Tunisia dates back to 2,400 years ago. “This covenant will contribute to ending years of fear, hatred, and a feeling of isolation within the Tunisian Jewish community,” he added.

Rabbi Cohen called on the Tunisian media to convey the voices of religious minorities and contribute to breaking the stereotypes that the majority of Tunisian society views towards religious minorities, especially Jews and Christians, explaining that the right to differ is guaranteed and that they can celebrate religious holidays and occasions and be congratulated on them, just like the majority religion.

He stressed that he aspires as a Jew to be able to go out or study without being worried about anyone and asking him about the “kippah” that he puts on his head so that he does not feel that he is a stranger to society despite its differences, as he remains a citizen like the rest of the citizens in Tunisian society. He stressed, “The Tunisian state must protect all citizens, and it has placed itself in a narrow framework, as the text of the Tunisian constitution affirms that it is a state whose religion is Islam, which means that it has removed the rest of the citizens from religious minorities from the framework of the state.”

For his part, Reverend Kamal Ouled Fatma, a representative of the Evangelical Church in Tunisia, said: “God is in his loving qualities, so it is not possible to coexist in isolation from others.” In statements to Al-Ain News, he confirmed, “We are Tunisian Christians, Tunisians, and we are not coming from Europe or America, and I did not come in my religious dress to prove that I am similar to all Tunisians.” He explained, “Christ taught us that we do not condemn so as not to be condemned, and we love even people who do not love us, so I was honored to participate and sign this agreement, which expresses unity within the framework of citizenship that embraces diversity.” Stressing that as Christians, they want to participate in building our homeland and live in peace with the rest of our people on an equal footing guaranteed by the constitution and international covenants.

Sister Ahlam Arfaoui, a representative of the Evangelical Church in Tunisia, thanked the Attalaki organization, which worked hard to gather the largest possible number of religious components at one table and for its strong defense of religious and Christian minorities in particular.

Mohamed ben Moussa, a member of  the Baha’i Media Office in Tunisia, said that this charter seeks unity, diversity, and difference. He acknowledged that adherents of the Baha’i faith in Tunisia are subjected to violations, as fatwas of infidelity were issued against them by the Grand Mufti of Tunisia in December 2020, and the presidency of the Tunisian government accused them of apostasy. He affirmed that what the Baha’is are experiencing is experienced by their Christian, Jewish, and Shiite brothers in Tunisia from the forms of fear, material and moral violence, exclusion, depriving them of most of their citizenship rights, and marginalizing their role as citizens who are partners in building.

This charter aroused a great uproar among Tunisian society, which responded to it with a large campaign of insults and threats of violence, reaching the point of calling for murder. While the official authorities were satisfied with silence, despite the fact that the Ministry of Religious Affairs sent a representative to attend the signing. Basma Maria Bakari, General Secretary for Attalaki, said that the strong reaction was expected, but not of this magnitude and a large number of messages of threats and insults from the general public, radical Muslim sheikhs, intellectuals, and others, as all comments were unanimous that Tunisia is a Muslim country and will remain so. This is evidence of the extent of extremist ideology and hatred in the community and their lack of acceptance of those who are different from them.

By Ghassen Ayari, Film Director and Public Relations Officer at Attalaki

Credit Photos : Yassine Gaidi / Anadolu Agency


Coexistence Tour


Coexistence Tour

Audiovisual production is important and capable of positive change within society, especially with regard to stereotypes about the different others. In this context, the meeting launched the Coexistence Tour project, which is working on producing a group of short films and sensibilization spots. The first awareness video, entitled “Tunisia Unites Us” was released in April 2021 with the support of the Observatory for the Defense of the Right to Difference, in which we highlighted coexistence and religious diversity in Tunisia through four religious leaders (Muslim, Christian, Jew and Baha’i).

In November 2021, a documentary film, entitled “Pilgrims in Tunis” was produced with the support of The Norwegian Center for Studies of the Holocaust and Religious Minorities. The short film is about a visit of a group of Tunisian youth to major religious landmarks in the suburbs of Tunis the capital (Al Zaytouna Mosque – St. George Anglican Church in Tunis – Synagogue La Goulette)  accompanied by religious leaders who provided them with information about the history of the landmarks and their historical and religious symbolism, highlighting the pivotal role of religion in public life, and activating the meanings of peace, brotherhood and peaceful coexistence through the discussion that the youth will have with them. In addition to highlighting and valuing the cultural and architectural diversity of the most important religious monuments in Tunisia. This documentary was selected to be shown at the International Festival of Inclusive Citizenship, Building Understanding and Interfaith Dialogue in Norway on December 7th, 2021, under the supervision of Mr. Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Secretary-General.





In March 2021, Attalaki had a partnership with Konrad-Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) to implement “Amena” project with the slogan “For a conscious and responsible religious leadership”.

This project is the result of dialogue sessions between actors in religious affairs and civil society focused on the extent of hate speech on social media platforms and its impact on large segments of society, especially young people, aware of the need to raise awareness of the importance of understanding and analyzing mechanisms for conflict resolution and mutual dialogue through launching a high-quality training program, including religious workers, civil society, and marginalized groups.

This project was comprised of 4 training workshops  beneficiaries from both genders disaggregated as follows: 

  • Imams
  • Preachers
  • Religious studies teachers
  • Youth activists

The objectives of this training were to contribute to enriching the capacities of different actors in the field of religion in communication and rhetoric such as follows:

Mastery of argumentation techniques:

  • Aristotle’s triangle
  • The rhetorical tools of speech
  • Interview techniques

Conflict management:

  • Know yourself better to act better in conflict situations
  • Decipher the different types of conflicts
  • Manage and resolve conflicts effectively

Formulation of messages through social networks:

  • Social networks as a vector of our argument
  • Best practices on social networks

The total cost of the project is TND 88,000.


Youth for Coexistence


Youth for Coexistence

In November 2020, Attalaki received a grant within the program “Capacity Building Program” funded by The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and being implemented by Association de Cooperation en Tunis (ACT).

This project works on the span of 2 years to spread the culture of difference among young people with the need to respect the beliefs and tendencies of others and how to manage diversity in the public space, develop skills and capabilities in creative thinking and create initiatives that contribute to creating an atmosphere of trust between the various components of society.

This project, titled Youth for Coexistence is a training program that aimed to train 15 youth activists from both genders to become trainers (ToT) in a 4 days intensive training course on the following themes:

  • Dialogue management and methods of teamwork and effective communication
  • Social initiatives conceptualization
  • Social media content drafting 
  • Training packages preparation

After the training, this project initiated a series of 6 workshops coordinated by the trained youth activists in their regions. The workshop implementation governorates are as follows: Bizerte, Nabeul, Zaghouan, El Kef, Jendouba, and Grand Tunis.

The objectives of the project are as follows:

  • Increasing the skills of workers and those interested in religious affairs in the field of public debates and methods of successful dialogue.
  • Providing platforms for different religious tendencies to meet and exchange views.
  • Providing targeted support for religious bloggers in the field of awareness at the grassroots level and enabling them to bridge the gap between virtual space and reality.
  • Encourage religious leaders to develop plans and programs to raise awareness about social, political, and economic issues among the general public.

The total cost of the project is 57,000.00 grant,





In August 2020, Attalaki received a grant within the program “Protecting the rights of religious minorities” funded by The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and being implemented by Minority Rights Group Europe (MRGE).

This project, titled 4EqualRightsaims to train a group of activists belonging to different faiths on key themes, including the concepts of human rights and minority rights as an international standard, and in particular within the framework of Tunisian legislation and international conventions and agreements ratified by the Republic of Tunisia. It also includes the concept of citizenship encompassing diversity, including types and issues of diversity, pluralism within the framework of democratic systems, while highlighting the reality of Tunisia. This project aims to enable participants to improve their capacities and skills in terms of knowledge of their rights in Tunisia, their legal status at the national level, the definition and the conception of the freedom of conscience of thought and religion as well as basic training in initiation to strategic communication and advocacy.

This project is composed of three training sessions as follows:

  • First session: Initiation to freedom of conscience and religion in the Tunisian Constitution and the legal status of religious minorities in Tunisia, provided by Mrs. Ikram dridi, university professor in public law. Testimony of four women belonging to different religious minorities on forms of injustice and discrimination that have been suffered in the family, at work, and in police stations.
  • Second session: This session focused on freedom of conscience and religion and conventions ratified by the Republic of Tunisia in which the first point of the session is, the definition of freedom of religion and conscience, the latter in principle, does not concern the state and is a private matter. 

The state, moreover, only intervenes to assure it to all citizens. It was also emphasized on the importance of the distinction between the internal aspect of this right (namely the religious conviction, which is part of the freedom of thought) which has no limit, and the external aspect (the fact of belonging to a community, the celebration of cults etc. which falls within the freedom of religion and worship) the latter is limited for different reasons which are determined by international law.

  • Third session: This training workshop focuses on the theme “Initiation to advocacy and strategic communication” which is part of the “for Equal Rights” project.

This training aims to promote a more serious awareness of the cause of minorities which was, and everywhere in the world, a decisive and unavoidable point for democracy and in particular in the transitional context in which Tunisia finds itself.

To succeed in its cause, civil society needs clear mechanisms and a theme displayed to politicians, the media and public opinion, to promote its struggle and crown its activism for the protection of different religious minorities in Tunisia.

The project provided a safe space to group of various religious minorities to freely express the forms of persecution and suffering that they face daily from society, state institutions and their families participated in the project implementation stages. As a result of these workshops, an advocacy policy paper was drafted and submitted to members of Parliament, the Minister of Religious Affairs, and national and international organizations calling for making the voice of religious minorities heard in decision-making mechanisms and granting them equal rights with the rest of the citizens.


Let’s Talk about Religious Freedom


Let’s Talk about Religious Freedom

In early March, 2021, Attalaki was granted directly the first award to be given to a Tunisian NGO by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)


This project “Let’s Talk about Religious Freedom”, which is being implemented by Attalaki in partnership with the US Agency for International Development, through which we will contribute to spreading awareness of the need to build a society more accepting and open to the different other and pushing towards dialogue as an important means to promote a culture of diversity and difference In a participatory framework that gives each of us the right to express his thoughts freely and within a safe space until we reach a stage of maturity and awareness that enables us to overcome our intellectual and ideological differences. On the other hand, we will shed light on the misconceptions about freedom of belief and religion at the legal and social level in Tunisia through a constitutional reading of the laws in force today, which in some aspects limit religious freedom, in addition to a sociological reading of the society’s view of religious or intellectual difference.

After one year of implementation of the project we have:

  • Trained 250 individuals from various backgrounds (religious minorities, students, professors, organizations, religious leaders) on the concept of religious freedom in its sociological and legal contexts.
  • Reached over 750,000 individuals in our social media campaign to raise awareness of the importance of religious freedom.
  • Completed 9 workshop from the total of 12 which included the participation of 18 governorates

This project is awarded under USAID’s New Partnerships Initiative (NPI). NPI is a focused effort to diversify USAID’s partner base by breaking down barriers and enabling collaboration between new and underutilized organizations, including locally based organizations, and USAID.


The total cost of the project is $177,000 .