Letter from Tunisia

Dear Readers,

A recent piece of information has come to me and I felt that it was too important to not share at the beginning of this letter:

Last week the Tunisian legislature passed a law erasing over a millennium of discrimination against women. In Islamic law Muslim women were not allowed to marry non Muslim men. In other words the state would not recognize a Muslim woman’s marriage to a non-muslim man. This of course had many negative ramifications. For all intents and purposes the woman was regarded as committing adultery and any children of such a union were deprived of rights including inheritance. This change in the law made Tunisia the first Muslim country to dispense with this onerous and unfairly discriminatory law.

Another change in the law in an effort to foster more equality between men and women is that of inheritance. Right now a woman can only inherit half of what her brother is entitled to collect. Again this archaic law goes back to a religious requirement. However, because of its wide-ranging impact, passage of this law leveling the playing field with regards to inheritance is running into strong opposition. Of course, this opposition is cloaked in the language of needing to protect a religious institution. But we all know that it is of course greed. The privilege that this gives men over women will not easily be given up.


Here we are in October and finally we may start to see the weather cool off a little bit. Throughout the months of July and August we had been hovering between 97 and 105 degrees. It seems to me with each passing month and year Climate change becomes more and more evident. Looking around at what is happening here and around the world the only reasonable conclusion is that the Climate is changing in severe and dangerous ways. In the U. S. there are wildfires in the West due to the heat and lack of water. In other parts of the country, rain and several powerful once-in-a-lifetime hurricanes have battered the gulf coast and mid-Atlantic.

Here in Tunisia, drought has been the order of the day. Other regions have either been inundated with flooding or parched by drought.

Of all the problems and catastrophes going on right now on this planet, along with the idiot U. S. President threatening a nuclear strike against N. Korea, climate change is the most existential threat to all species. The tragic part of both threats (that of Trump and that of Climate change) is that they’re problems that can and must be dealt with. Trump should be impeached now. Climate change is going to take a little longer to address but it can be addressed and must be dealt with soon. There are tipping points in Climate change according to scientists, and once they are reached, they cannot be reversed.

Unfortunately, the United States is the only real hold-out in implementing serious climate change prevention solutions. Once again, like everything else in America, these days the reason for this luddite behavior is simple greed. Were the country to go to renewable energy to mitigate the effects of the changing climate, the Petro-billionaires might end up with no viable industry. So for the sake of a few hundred individuals, humanity is on the edge of a major disaster, if not extinction. Eventually, America needs to address this problem and what to do about these billionaires and their filthy industry.

Two countries who are taking a lead in addressing climate change are China and, believe it or not, Saudi Arabia. This is a major indictment of the short-sightedness of American energy policy. Other countries are now starting to awaken to the problems of the changing climate as well.

At the beginning of the summer I wrote that Tunisians were mostly unaware of the concept of Climate change. However, after a summer of drought and the incongruity of sea level rise, people here are starting to take notice. There has been an upsurge in the installation of solar energy in individual houses. Though electric and hybrid cars have yet to make a widespread appearance, this is primarily due to their cost. During the Ben-Ali government (you know, that “corrupt” regime that supposedly caused the revolution), the government began converting the public transportation system from diesel to electricity. As we speak, our Metro and trains have been converted largely to electrical power. As an aside, after how the Drumpf regime is grifting the American Public, I really never want to hear again about the corruption in other countries. Didn’t Jesus say something about removing the beam in your neighbor’s eye to remove the moat in yours or some such thing?

The government here is well to say the least messed up. About ten days ago the Prime Minister had a major reshuffling of his ministries. This lack of continuity is a detriment to the stability of the country economically. There is no consistency in what is being done and for a country adjusting to a new way of doing things this is not a good thing. Over the last four months we have had three Ministers of education.

Many parents and students are confused and annoyed at the changes as the education program and curriculum will change again. This leaves teachers, students, and parents at sea as to what is going to be happening not for the next five years but for this year.

Our religiously oriented party is making a hash out of the proposed government as they are still trying to impose their brand of Islamic law or something like that. The other parties are not going along with this program and this has pretty much stymied any kind of coherent governing.

As things are developing here and abroad, I am left wondering if democracy is really the best form of government. Ideally, it would be but it takes an informed and educated people to make it work. Neither condition seems to apply very much either in Tunisia or America.

Going back to my opening paragraphs: If climate change is not radically addressed soon, there will be very little reason to worry about things like inheritance or much else.

Well, until next month. I hope to have something more cheerful to write about. Take care.



Kemal Benyounces is a 51-year-old, blind, duel citizen living in Tunisia. He graduated from Towson State University with a BS in Political Science and History. He moved to Tunisia to have better support for his disability. Kemal is married with two children. Kemal can be reached at: kemalbenyounes@gmail.com.

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