Tunisia is viewed as the lone democratic success story in the Arab Spring. But the North African nation has many issues, including an uneven economy and, according to the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization in London, the distinction of having more citizens -- up to 3,000 Tunisians -- thought to have gone to Iraq and Syria to fight as jihadists than any other country. It has now suffered a recent terrorist attack on foreign tourists. I decided to ask a fellow member of I.A.W.R.T. (International Association of Women in Radio and Television) her thoughts. I.A.W.R.T. deals with women in the media, images of women and violence against women
After finishing film studies in Paris, Khadija Lemkecher worked as an assistant director to Georges Lucas, Cedric Klapish, Rachid Bouchareb, and Nouri Bouzid. Following a career making commercials, documentaries and fiction films, she became the youngest Tunisian woman to own a production company making her film Bab El fella - the Cinemonde. Her latest short film is the award-winning Night Blind Moon. She is in post-production on Women of The Pseudo-spring and writing her next feature Sirens Isolate Themselves to Sing.
Her films always have women as the central focus and she advocates for the rights of women through her art and her activism.
N: Were you near the event?
K: I live in Tunis--it's about 120 km from Sousse.
N: How does it feel to have violence so close by?
K: Fear and also rage are the predominant feeling I have.
N. Do you think it will affect tourism? And do you think most Tunisians blame the West for the creation of ISIS, with Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.?
K. Sure it affects tourism and all our economy -- almost one person from ten is living from tourism!
Tunisians don't blame the West at all; we blame ourselves and how we chose this government after these two elections.
N. As the lone democratic success story in the Arab Spring, why do you think terrorist groups are breaking in?
K. No one believes that democracy can exist in an Arab country and no one can believe that Islam can be modern and moderate -- these fanatics have their own view about religion and they will make anything to break our successful story.
N. Glenn Greenwald on Stop the War Coalition says this terrorism is not a threat in the West, and is overblown causing more bias against regular practicing Moslems? Do you concur?
K. Sure, Muslims are the first victims. We have from the first election (when the Islamist party was in the government) faced the terrorism and the murders. And till now every month policemen and military are targets, especially in Ramadan!
N. Are you a Moslem? How do you feel about the way women are faring today and in particular in these terrorists' clans? Do you have or know any woman who has been recruited?
K. I am Muslim. These young women that join this pseudo-Jihad are indoctrinated in a cult. They are generally young and socially in difficulties... sometimes they are following a lover who is fighting with these groups. These girls can't imagine that they will make prostitution in the name of Jihad! They come back home pregnant with disease like Aids....
N. As a woman and media person, what can be done to stop the movement?
K. We must fight the evil at its source. Why do our young people become terrorists and the youth suicide rate is so high in Tunisia? We have to review our education system and put culture at the center of young people's lives, who abandoned no longer know how to gather for a music concert or a movie, but gather around these black flags, listening to that bearded sow hate speech, murder and jihad. These voids young of any personal judgment, they are hypnotized and become desperate to die. So I say education and culture, the two concepts that the dictator Ben Ali has removed, are the only ones who can save our youth indoctrination.
I want to note that the budget of culture in Tunisia is 0, 38 per cent while the budget of religious ministry is 16 per cent!!! . No theatre, no concerts, no dance, no library ... No sports either!!! How can they live in a village where there's only a coffee and a mosque?!!! See who is teaching in this mosque?!!!! You understand, Nancy?
Peace?! I think in Tunisia we need year to build a peaceful Arab democracy. It will be hard years especially for us who are in the culture. After my last movie we were threatened with death and I think the next one will be harder, but we have to continue the fight for my daughter and my son. I know that they are suffering but don't want to give up now. I want to work for the peace of my children and all the children of the future.
I know that one day, maybe I will not be with them, but they will live in a real democratic Arab country, and it will be the first.