Words cannot express my sadness and anger for what is happening to our brothers and sisters in Tunis.
- There were reports of police requiring women to remove the veil in offices, on the street, at universities, and at some public gatherings; however, it was nonetheless common to see women wearing the hijab in a variety of public settings.
- School officials took disciplinary action on several occasions to punish and deter wearing the hijab. According to local NGOs, on March 6, 2008, a teacher at a Tunis high school removed the hijab of a student. On April 10 and 11, 2008, a principal prevented several female students from attending their classes at a high school in El Ghazala because they were wearing the hijab.
- There were also frequent reports that police harassed or detained men with beards and/or who wore traditional Islamic-style clothing. According to human rights lawyers, the Government regularly questioned and detained some Muslims who were observed praying frequently in mosques.
- The Government controls and subsidizes mosques and pays the salaries of imams (clerics). The President appoints the Grand Mufti of the Republic. The 1988 Law on Mosques stipulates that only personnel appointed by the Government may lead activities in mosques and that mosques must remain closed except during prayer times and authorized religious ceremonies, such as marriages or funerals. However, several historically significant mosques are partially open to tourists and other visitors for a few hours per day, several days a week. New mosques may be built in accordance with national urban planning regulations; however, upon completion, they become the property of the Government.
- The authorities instructed imams to espouse government social and economic programs during prayer times in mosques and informed imams that those who used mosques to “spread ideologies” would be prosecuted.
- Government decrees dating from 1981 and 1986 restrict the wearing of sectarian dress, generally interpreted to mean the hijab, in government offices and discourage women from wearing it on public streets and at certain public gatherings. In December 2006 a lower court ruled that the 1986 decree was unconstitutional, but the ruling is not binding. The Government stated that the hijab is a sign of membership in a fundamentalist group that hides behind religion to achieve political ends and that, according to the Modern Islamic school of thought, wearing the hijab is not an obligation. The Government describes the hijab as a sectarian garment of foreign origin and justifies its restriction of the hijab in public institutions as necessary to preserve the impartiality of officials.
- There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom by the Government during the period covered by this report. The Government prohibits efforts to proselytize Muslims; it also restricts the wearing of the hijab (Islamic headscarf). Domestic and international human rights organizations reported instances of police harassment of women wearing the hijab and men with traditional Islamic dress and beards.
Source US Embassy Tunisia
Finally, two years ago the Government of Tunisia started the mosque I.D plan. Meaning, if you want to pray in your local mosque you would need an I.D card. This card would prevent you from praying anywhere else. Now if you are a tourist there is no problem, you can go where you like. This was announced on al-Arabiyyah news 2 years ago. This brother has more information on the program: click here.