1. Jailed Tunisian opposition leader plans hunger strike

    Mike Thomson

    BBC World Service News

    Rached Ghannouchi in November 2022 before his arrest.
    Image caption: Rached Ghannouchi, pictured last year, leads the Ennahda party

    The jailed leader of Tunisia’s main opposition party has said he's going on hunger strike until restrictions on him and other prisoners are lifted.

    Rached Ghannouchi, 82, who leads the moderate Islamist Ennahda party, was arrested in April and sentenced to a year in prison for incitement.

    He is the most high-profile of more than 20 critics of Tunisia’s President Kais Saied to have been detained this year.

    President Saied, who was elected in 2019, has been accused of mounting a power grab since dissolving the country’s parliament, curbing the judiciary and giving himself powers to rule by decree.

  2. Tunisia cartoonist freed after arrest for drawings

    The Newsroom

    BBC World Service

    A well-known satirical cartoonist in Tunisia has been released after several hours of questioning by the police.

    The family of Tawfiq Omrane says that he has been told that he must attend a court hearing in Tunis next week.

    Mr Omrane was detained on Thursday for allegedly insulting the Tunisian prime minister, Ahmed Hachani in his cartoons.

    Mr Hachani was appointed by President Kais Saied, who seized almost all executive powers in Tunisia just over two years ago.

    Mr Omrane has been highly critical of the president in his cartoons.

    Opposition activists see his detention as the latest attack on free speech.

  3. Tunisia arrests cartoonist for drawings mocking PM

    Youssef Taha

    BBC World Service News

    Ahmed Hachani (R) takes the oath of office at Carthage Palace, in Tunis, Tunisia on August 02, 2023.
    Image caption: The drawings poked fun at the Tunisian Prime Minister Ahmed Hachani (R)

    The Tunisian journalists' union has condemned the authorities for arresting a popular cartoonist.

    It called for the immediate release of Tawfiq Omrane.

    He's been charged with offensive activity over his drawings that poke fun at Tunisian Prime Minister Ahmed Hachani.

    Mr Omrane's lawyer said he had been seized at his home and taken to the national security office in the town of Mégrine, near the capital, Tunis, at the orders of the public prosecutor.

    Mr Omrane is well known for his satirical cartoons of President Kais Saied too.

    The increasingly autocratic president, who seized almost all powers two years ago, has had many of his critics detained in recent months.

  4. Tunisian island gains Unesco-listed status

    The island of Djerba, off the coast of Tunisia, has been added to the UN cultural agency's much-coveted world heritage list.

    Gaining Unesco recognition often boosts tourism and can make it easier to secure funds for the preservation of cultural sites.

    Visitors already flock to the picturesque island famed for its white-washed villages and the yearly pilgrimage to Ghriba Synagogue. Djerba is believed to be among the first Jewish settlements in Africa.

    Star Wars movies have also been filmed on Djerba, and it was said to be the home of "lotus-eaters" in Homer's ancient Greek epic poem The Odyssey.

    View more on twitter
  5. Tunisian police arrest top opposition officials

    Wazir Khamsin

    BBC News

    Mondher Ounissi, Member of the Executive Office of the Ennahda Movement speaks during press conference at Ennahda Party headquarters as Rached Ghannouchi, one of the main opponents of Tunisian President Kais Saied, has been arrested on April 17, 2023 in Tunis, Tunisia.
    Image caption: The interim head of Ennahda, Mondher Ounissi, was among those arrested

    Tunisian police have arrested the top two officials in the main opposition party, the party says.

    They include the interim head of Ennahda, Mondher Ounissi.

    His detention is said to be linked to audio messages in which he purportedly accuses party colleagues of receiving illegal funds.

    Mr Ounissi says the recordings are fabricated.

    The Tunisian authorities have detained a series of opposition figures this year.

    President Kais Saied has ruled by decree since 2021, when he sacked parliament and dissolved the government.

    His critics accuse him of carrying out a coup.

  6. Ons Jabeur fails to find 'warrior mood' at US Open

    Tunisia's star player goes out in the fourth round

    Ons Jabeur
    Image caption: Ons Jabeur has featured in three Grand Slam finals but is yet to win her first major

    Tunisia's Ons Jabeur suffered a frustrating defeat in the fourth round of the US Open tennis championship.

    Last year's runner-up in New York lost 6-2 6-4 to China's Zheng Qinwen.

    The 29-year-old was left heartbroken after losing a second Wimbledon final in July and has struggled with illness during her time in New York.

    BBC Sport say the Tunisian fifth seed has also exerted a lot of energy on the court, having won both of her previous two matches in three sets.

    Jabeur was broken twice in the first set against Qinwen, rescuing one of them before handing the momentum straight back to her opponent.

    She saved four match points in the second as Qinwen's nerves struck, but the Chinese 23rd seed held on to secure a place in the last eight.

    "No matter what the tournament is, you always take a great lesson," Jabeur said.

    "I know that I can dig deep. Maybe I'm tough with myself today because I couldn't get that warrior mood on. It's just disappointing."

  7. Popular Tunisian rapper reaches Italy on migrant boat

    BBC Monitoring

    The world through its media

    Junior Hassen
    Image caption: Junior Hassen has almost 15 million views on his YouTube channel

    A popular Tunisian rapper has illegally emigrated to Italy amid a deepening economic crisis in the North African country.

    Junior Hassen, whose songs have been viewed close to 15 million times on YouTube, made the potentially deadly boat crossing to Sicily last week.

    News outlet Mosaique FM said the rapper had reached the southern Italian city of Palermo after travelling with a group of migrants from his hometown, Sousse.

    Social media users have circulated footage that they believe shows Hassen, real name Hassen Sassi, crossing the Mediterranean on a small boat with other Tunisian migrants. But the footage has not been independently verified.

    Tunisia's dire economic crisis has pushed many people to take desperate measures in hopes of better lives abroad. Earlier this year, a Tunisian football club suspended its activities after 32 of its players emigrated to Europe.

    Tunisia has become the main departure point for African migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe. Tunisians in growing numbers have also opted for sea journeys on the world's deadliest migration route.

  8. Negative comments can't silence me - rapper FBK

    DJ Edu

    Presenter of This Is Africa on BBC World Service

    Tunisian rapper FBK

    Tunisian rapper FBK is first and foremost a writer, who started writing poetry at about the same time she began rapping:

    Quote Message: I remember it was during Eid al-Adha. I was impressed by the sight of a sheep being sacrificed. I was sitting on a chair, saying poetic lines about it. I kept adding lines until I found myself writing a whole poem.
    Quote Message: Sometimes circumstances inspire me to write a poem, sometimes a rap song. It depends on my mood, and the situation I’m in."

    FBK gets her inspiration from nature, from her own experiences, and from those of her friends.

    Some of her songs are very personal, like Césarienne. In it she talks about how she came into the world:

    Quote Message: I was born prematurely at only seven months, by C-section, and that for me has become a springboard to face any challenges."

    Other songs tackle more general topics such as the sexist attitudes women in Tunisia face.

    The track Kaabi was inspired by some of the negative comments FBK received on social media in because of her decision to become a rapper:

    Quote Message: Comments like: 'What are you doing?', 'Go and wash the dishes', that sort of thing. So I took a pen and a sheet of paper and I wanted to reply to those comments, spontaneously.
    Quote Message: I released the song, and in the end the number of views was impressive and I was very happy. I felt that strength and success came from the negative."

    FBK is also alive to the political context – and potential – of rap in Tunisia, saying:

    Quote Message: The revolution opened up doors, especially for rappers. Now we can express our opinions on the political situation, on the social situation. This was forbidden before.
    Quote Message: But now we have the opportunity to express ourselves, we have to try as hard as we can to make our voices heard - to try to change what's happening, even just a little bit."

    You can hear the full interview with FBK online here: BBCworldservice.com/thisisafrica

  9. At least five migrants dead off Tunisia coast

    Youssef Taha

    BBC World Service News

    The authorities in Tunisia say at least five migrants have died and seven others are missing after their boat sank off the coast.

    The vessel, heading for Europe, was carrying 35 people, mostly Tunisian nationals, including women and children.

    Twenty-three passengers have been rescued.

    The boat capsized shortly after setting sail from Sidi Mansour, near Sfax, which has emerged this year as a key hub for migrants hoping to reach Europe by boat.

  10. At least 14 migrants die in Tunisia shipwrecks

    The Newsroom

    BBC World Service

    Sub-Saharan African migrants who were expelled from the city of Sfax in Tunisia beg for help as they gather in an area near the Libyan-Tunisia border, in Ras Jedir, 173 km west of Tripoli, Libya, 26 July 2023.
    Image caption: Tunisia is a major gateway for irregular migrants from other parts of Africa

    The Tunisian authorities say at least 14 migrants have died in different shipwrecks in the Mediterranean over the last two days.

    More than 50 are missing after the latest accident, in which a boat sank off the coast.

    All those on board were from sub-Saharan Africa.

    Tunisia is a major gateway for irregular migrants from other parts of Africa attempting perilous voyages to Europe.

    The Tunisian interior minister says the coast guard has recovered more than 900 bodies of drowned migrants so far this year.

  11. Tunisian singer's show cancelled over Palestinian concerts

    Mike Thomson

    BBC World Service News

    Tunisian singer Emel Mathlouthi
    Image caption: Emel Mathlouthi performed in Bethlehem, Ramallah and East Jerusalem to Palestinian audiences last month

    A Tunisian singer who was hailed as the voice of the country's uprising in 2011 has had a forthcoming show cancelled after performing in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

    Last month Emel Mathlouthi performed in Bethlehem, Ramallah and East Jerusalem to Palestinian audiences.

    Following the tour she was accused by pro-Palestinian campaigners of promoting “normalisation” with Israel – and her performance at next week’s Hammamet International Festival in Tunisia has been cancelled.

    Ms Mathlouthi said she had been the victim of a “big misinformation campaign” – and the move was “unjustified” because she didn’t perform in Israel.

  12. Tunisia’s president sacks PM Bouden

    The Newsroom

    BBC World Service

    Tunisia's Prime Minister Najla Bouden
    Image caption: Ms Bouden was the country's first ever female prime minister

    Tunisia's autocratic President Kais Saied has sacked Prime Minister Najla Bouden.

    Ms Bouden - the country's first ever female prime minister - was hand-picked by President Saied to lead the government after he removed her predecessor two years ago and took control of almost all state powers.

    Her late-night dismissal was followed by the immediate swearing-in of another political unknown, Ahmed Hachani, who previously worked at the Tunisian central bank.

    The move comes during a deepening economic and social crisis that has seen a shortage of many key commodities.

    Ms Bouden's government had supported an economic reform programme geared towards securing a $2bn (£1.6bn) IMF bailout

  13. French rapper cancels Tunisia concert over migrant treatment

    Congolese-born French rapper Maitre Gims has cancelled a concert in Tunisia that was scheduled for 11 August.

    In an Instagram story, the rapper cited the mistreatment of migrants for the cancellation saying: “Children, women, men expelled from Tunisia to Libya, live in inhumane conditions. I cannot maintain my visit to Tunisia.”

    Gims has cancelled a concert in Tunisia
    Image caption: Gims announced the cancellation of the concert on Instagram

    Libyan guards recently rescued dozens of sub-Saharan migrants in a desert area on the border between the two countries

    They said they had been dumped there from Tunisia without water, food or shelter.

    Tunisia has become the main departure point for migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

    In recent months, black migrants in Tunisia have faced violent attacks due to an increasingly hostile environment.

    Tunisia's President Kais Saied has previously accused migrants of partaking in a "plot" to change the country's demographic profile, blaming "traitors who are working for foreign countries". He later denied being racist.

    Read more on Tunisia:

  14. Tunisia brings destructive wildfires under control

    BBC World Service


    Fires burning in Jendouba province, Tunisia - July 2023
    Image caption: More than 1,000 hectares (2,471 acres) of forest in Jendouba province have been destroyed

    Civil defence forces in Tunisia say wildfires which spread across five provinces for several days have now been brought under control.

    More than 1,000 hectares (2,471 acres) of forest in the north western province of Jendouba have been destroyed, however, firefighters still remain on alert.

    Fire fighter in Jendouba province, Tunisia - July 2023
    Image caption: Fire fighters, who have been battling the wildfires for more than a week, remain on alert

    Countries around the Mediterranean are counting the cost of a week of fires fuelled by high temperatures.

    In Greece, emergency services have tried to prevent new flare-ups in the central area of Magnesia.

    Searing heat from wildfires triggered powerful explosions at an ammunition depot in the town of Nea Aghialos, prompting the Greek air force to evacuate fighter jets from their base on Thursday.

    Tunisia has been battling wildfires with temperatures up to 49C (120F) recorded.

    Read more:

  15. Hundreds of migrants drown off Tunisia in 2023

    Stranded African migrants plead to be saved from a desert zone between Libya and Tunisia on July 26
    Image caption: Tunisia has faced an unprecedented wave of migration this year

    Tunisian authorities say hundreds of migrants have drowned off its coast in the first half of this year.

    Exact figures vary, with Reuters reporting that 901 bodies had been recovered from January to 20 July, while a separate source told the AFP the number stands at 789.

    The North African country has become the main departure point for migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

    Some 75,065 boat migrants had reached Italy by 14 July against 31,920 in the same period last year, according to Reuters citing official data - with more than half of them leaving from Tunisia.

    Tunisia and the EU recently signed a deal to tackle illegal migration.

    Read more about migration from North Africa here.

  16. Tunisia wildfires: 'We had no water to douse flames'

    Bassam Bounenni

    BBC Arabic, near Tabarka, Tunisia

    Adil El Selmy - July 2023
    Image caption: Adil El Selmy is devastated by the loss of his restaurant

    Halfway between the town of Tabarka and Melloula, the Tunisian coastal village where 300 people have been evacuated because of wildfires, I came across dozens of cars parked in front of Adil El Selmy's eco-friendly restaurant.

    People had rushed to express solidarity with the owner after his eatery was razed to the ground in the fires that are causing devastation in this area along the border with Algeria.

    "We left the restaurant as the flames approached," Mr Selmy says.

    Mr Selmy's restaurant that was destroyed by the wildfires in Tunisia - July 2023

    The water supply in Tabarka was affected last week during an unprecedented heatwave, which made things even harder for those fighting fires.

    "We couldn't douse flames, hours after the wooden building was devastated,” Mr Selmi told me, looking deeply afflicted.

    He employed 22 people at the restaurant and cannot see to a way forward.

    People by Adil El Selmy's restaurant in western Tunisia - July 2023
    Image caption: People have come to commiserate with Adil El Selmy, who employed 22 people at his restaurant

    The ravaged restaurant normally overlooks the sea, however the Mediterranean can barely be seen as a haze of smoke is still blanketing the area.

    Temperatures reached 48C (118F) in parts of North Africa on Monday.

  17. Tunisians chant 'down with coup' at anti-Saïed protest

    Mike Thomson

    BBC World Service News

    President Kaïs Saïed
    Image caption: Tunisia's president has staged a power grab

    Two years since President Kaïs Saïed of Tunisia adopted sweeping powers, hundreds of his opponents have held demonstrations in the capital, Tunis.

    In 2021 Mr Saïed sacked the government and suspended parliament - before later enfeebling the judiciary and arresting many of his critics.

    Chanting "down with the coup" the protesters demanded the release of around 20 opposition politicians as well as journalists, activists and lawyers, most of whom have been charged with conspiring against the state.

    Rights groups have described the arrests as a witch hunt.

    An uprising in the North African country helped trigger the so-called Arab Spring in 2011 - and it was the region's sole democracy to emerge from the uprisings.