New Media and Islam in Tunisia – Københavns Universitet

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New Media and Islam in Tunisia

In November 2003 the Tunisian president Ben Ali declared in a speech that the audiovisual space now was open for the private sector. The speech became the starting signal for the launch of Tunisia's first three private radio stations and two private television channels. One of the private radio stations is the Islamic Radio Zitouna, launched in 2007. It is the first Tunisian audiovisual media with a sole focus on Islam. In general, media coverage of Islam has been scarce since independence in 1956. In the same period, from 2003, a new appropriation of Islam has taken place in Tunisia. While Islam has been absent in public spaces for several reasons since independence, this status of Islam has profoundly changed: Young girls and women are now wearing the headscarf in public, men leave their beard, mosques are full and prayer performed in the street on Fridays, and Islam is now openly discussed in conversations even in public places. Hence, two new and significant changes are shaping the Tunisian public space and society: New private media and a new appropriation of Islam.

This research project analyses the emergence of Radio Zitouna and the radio's role in the Tunisian context. The study of Radio Zitouna is holistic and focuses not only on the radio itself but also on the political and social context in which it operates. Thus the analysis uses both a media-centric and a media-ethnographic point of departure.

Rikke Hostrup Haugbølle holds a MA in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Copenhagen. Since 1995 she has followed Tunisia closely and has participated in several international conferences with papers on Tunisia. Her master thesis deals with the relevance of clans and tribal system for the development of democracy in contemporary Tunisia.