25 January 2013

Tunisia: National Emergency Strategy to Face Aggression Targeting Zaouias

Tunis — Culture Minister Mehdi Mabrouk announced the establishment of a "national emergency strategy" in collaboration with "the Ministries of Culture, Interior and Religious Affairs, to face the repeated aggressions against mausoleums and zaouias in all the Tunisian territory."

At the end of a meeting held Friday in Carthage with caretaker President of the Republic Mohamed Moncef Marzouki, the Minister said to the press that "guaranteeing a permanent surveillance of zaouias remains, henceforth, an urgent affair" in light of the "clear evidence proving the existence of a planned approach by some obscurantist sides aiming to put an end to the presence of these symbols of history which constitute an integral and important part of the national memory."

He added that the Culture Ministry is "responsible for the protection and safeguard of the heritage in its technical and architectural aspects" underlining that the Ministry "does not dispose of a security body in the protection of historical monuments in the country which are about 2,500. The security aspect is the prerogatives of the Interior Ministry" he said.

In this connection he specified "co-ordination actions are underway with the Interior Ministry to guarantee the surveillance of mausoleums and zaouias". He specified that the Culture Ministry made several complaints in this sense, considering that these "criminal acts having undermined the mausoleums emanate from an obscurantist spirit".

Besides, Mr. Mehdi Mabrouk said that the protection of mausoleums and zaouias is a collective responsibility of the authorities, the local communities and all the components of the civil society. In this connection, he pointed out that "the role of zaouias and saints in boosting Islam in Tunisia through history" will be one of the key themes topping the agenda of the conferences and round tables scheduled on the occasion of the celebration of the Heritage Month, due next April.

It is to be noted that this meeting was attended by General Directors of the National Heritage Institute (INP) and the Heritage Development and Cultural Promotion Agency (AMVPPC) as well as the Executive of the "Management of Historical Monuments and Archaeological sites."

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