admirer Walking alongside our Muslim neighbors through Tunisia’s La Goulette port district is a reminder of a time when Sicilians were at the center of neighborhood life. The Trapani procession, which marks the Catholic feast of the Assumption of the Virgin, is a reflection of a “forgotten history” that researchers from Italy say offers a model of coexistence between faiths and ethnic groups with immigrants. increase.

The annual procession was born in the mid-19th century, when La Goulette was inhabited by tens of thousands of Sicilians, Sephardic Jews, Maltese, Greeks and Spaniards. Silvia Finzi, editor of the Tunisian Italian-language newspaper Corriere di Tunisi, one of about 120 Italian publications founded between 1838 and 1956, when Tunisia became independent, said, “They celebrate and mourn each other. and attended each other’s events,” said from France. There were some red lines. For example, few marriages transcended religious differences. However, for centuries, Tunisia has peacefully embraced a hodgepodge of immigrant communities “without forgetting their roots,” he said. Finzi said.

The Trapani Madonna Procession began in 1848 after Tunisian Muslim ruler Ahmed Bey (whose mother was a Sardinian Christian) gave land to build a church. It was a Sicilian fisherman from La Goulette, a harbor district on the edge of Tunis. , marking the Feast of the Assumption on 15 August, and began the annual procession from the church to the sea to pray for good catches and protection on the high seas. The sailors lived among Muslims and Jews in the part of La Goulette called “Little Sicily”. Trapani is a city in the northwest of the Italian island. The procession was suspended in 1964 after Tunisia’s independence from France, but resumed in 2017. This year it has attracted hundreds of Christians, Muslims and the mayors of Tunis and La Goulette.

“Respect Example”

The Catholic Archbishop of Tunis, Hilario Antoniazzi, said such a march would be “impossible” in other parts of the Maghreb region. The 74-year-old, who has spent nearly 50 years in the region, said that Muslim-majority Tunisia’s “respect” for people of other religions is “a model for many Arab countries”. Told. That’s because La Goulette, just 220 kilometers (135 miles) from Italy, the largest island in the Mediterranean, has a long history of Sicilians.

Alfonso Campisi, a professor of Italian civilization descended from Sicilian settlers, has spent two decades studying the “forgotten history” of some 130,000 Italians living in the North African country. He has written a book and made a documentary to ‘give a voice’ to those who have continued to live in La Goulette. His film about “African Sicilians”, which showed in France, Italy and Tunis this summer, also examines the fate of those who left the country after independence and ended up in refugee camps in northern Italy.

“Missing Link”

Italians continued to make their way to Tunisia in the 19th and 20th centuries, leaving a lasting imprint on Tunisian architecture, cuisine (many plates of pasta) and even the local dialect of Arabic. Many were artisans, masons, machinists, or farm workers who fled Italy to escape poverty and the Sicilian mafia, Cosa his Nostra. Most left Tunisia after independence when Tunisians were given priority in public jobs and land ownership.

Nadia Nagy, a Tunisian and Italian language teacher, said that Tunisians themselves “do not know the history of this period. There is a missing link.” Italian heritage is everywhere, from the colonial buildings of Tunis to words that have percolated into the local dialect of Arabic, such as fish names (triguria for red mullet) and expressions such as ‘Daccoldo’ (OK) . “My grandparents used to tell me about their Jewish, Italian and Sicilian friends,” said Atef Chedli, a 65-year-old radiologist after watching the Campisi documentary.

“It was not ‘Tunisians and others.’ The Jews were very well integrated, as were the Italians and the Maltese.” People were (partly) closer to the Tunisians because they were of the same inferior status,” Finzi said, and because they shared a Mediterranean culture. We believe that the model can serve today as an example for the integration of immigrants in Italy, France and the rest of the world.

Tunisia “has been able to welcome large numbers of poor people not only from Sicily, but also from Greece, Corsica and Spain,” Campisi said. Sicilians and Tunisians in Tunisia who remember that era “have both a nostalgia and a desire for Tunisia to remain an open and tolerant country” welcoming immigrants, Finzi added. – AFP

Source link

Previous articleRTL Today – Extortion: French Police Open Investigation into Pogba Extortion Allegations
Next articleMany Obstacles for Global Automakers Seeking EV Success