During the last attacks in Paris, journalists, media analysts, colleagues, friends, bombarded me with their questions, to help them understand the incomprehensible horror. Of course I understand the fear and the disarray. I share the same. But my final remark is always ‘the only answer we should have is to celebrate life and not let the fear stop us from enjoying what we want to do. And also that our western politicians finally start a Real Politic strategy based on sustainability so that we are not anymore addicted to and dependent of oil from the Middle East. The biggest exporters of oil (Saudi Arabia, Iraq…) are also the biggest exporters of terrorism.
In July 2015, a young Tunisian man, trained in the camps of Daesh (“IS”) in Libya, killed with a Kalashnikov 38 people sunbathing on the beach in Sousse, Tunisia. That was the first time such a thing happens in Tunisia. The whole country was in shock. All European tour operators cancelled their flights to Tunisia and Western media did a little coverage and went back to business as usual. Since, is Tunisia, which is completely dependant on tourism, in a deeper economical crisis.
Today in Paris, Daesch terrorists killed innocent people enjoying themselves on a terrace in Paris. C’était une horreur. Did any tour operators cancel their flights and vacations to France? No. Did any Western country announce a negative travel advice to France? No. So why these double standards?
Arabs and Muslims are the first victims of Muslim terrorism. They are the ones suffering the most, physically, economically, mentally, and spiritually… And they are daily fighting terrorism with all means they have. But we don’t hear or read about it in Western media. Despite the fear and harshness of the situation, the majority of Tunisians chose to keep on enjoying and celebrating life, they refuse to let fear influence their lives.
Many official government web sites in Europe have declared Tunisia as ‘a high risk terrorist zone’ and they justify that with informations such as ‘Curfew between 00:00 and 5:00’, ‘high risk of kidnapping of Westeners’… and these incorrectinformations scare people of course. Logical.
Western web sites don’t mention that the curfew is only for 30 days around Tunis the capital and not in the rest of the country; and absolutely not in touristic areas which are under a very tight security protection. And about kidnapping: until this day there has never, ever, been any Westerner, or any local or anybody, kidnapped in Tunisia.
These official sites never mention that the Tunisian population is cooperating with the police to fight against terrorism; that potential terrorists in Tunisia are regularly denounced by their own mothers, sisters, fathers, brothers; that the terrorists don’t enjoy social support from the population.
These sites don’t mention that Tunisians protect tourists as they would protect their own families because Tunisians are hospitable and generous people with visitors, and they are pragmatic: their incomes depend on tourists.
These official western web sites don’t mention that during the terrorist attacks in July 2015 in Sousse, the Tunisian workers of the hotel risked their lives and made a line in front of the terrorist to stop him from killing more tourists; they don’t mention that the hotel stuff did hide about 100 tourists in the basement of the hotel.
My family lives right on the beach in Sousse where people were killed this summer, we usually swim there. Many members of my family could have been killed that day. I went this summer to Tunisia one week after the attacks. Most of my Dutch friends and acquaintances found it ‘dangerous’ that I go there, and ‘irresponsible’ that I take my child. Telling them that life in Tunisia is as normal as anywhere else, that the country is beautiful, the beaches magical, the people friendly and the food wonderful did not help. Their minds were already poisoned by fear and media intox.
I went anyway; and I took my little boy to our beach. You could still see the traces of the massacre. My boy was nervous, and scared. Me too. He asked me: ‘’mama, what about if they come now and kill us with Kalashnikovs on the beach!” I said “possible, but it can be everywhere, not only here.” And he screamed, “I don’t want to die! I don’t want you to die!”
I said, with a broken heart, “It would horrible to live without you, it would be tragic to have our lives taken away in such a savage way; but there is one thing we cannot control: death; it can happen anywhere, everywhere…” He looked at me with questioning eyes and asked: “so what should we do?” I said “It’s better to think about it in positive way: if we were about to die, now, what is it that we really want to do before we die?”
And he answered: “If I would die now I would say: mama I love you so much, you are the sweetest mama on earth”. Tears of sadness and joy were running on my cheeks. We had a long warm hug, then my little man said with his malicious smile ‘and before we die we must have a lemon and pistachio ice cream at Cherif’s pâtisserie!”