Tunisian lawmakers rejected a motion calling on France to apologize for crimes committed during and after colonial rule. On Wednesday, the MPs have rejected bill following 15 hours of debate that ran into the night.
The Tunisian parliamentary discussion on Wednesday was really hot. The lawmakers from the small opposition Islamist party Al-Karama even attended the session wearing T-shirts bearing the slogan: “Murder and torture, the brutality of French colonialism.”
In fact, only 77 votes were cast in favour of the motion, which had been put forward by Al-Karama, which holds 19 of the 217 seats in parliament. The number is far short of the 109 votes needed for it to pass.
The motion called on France to apologize for “assassinations… rapes… the pillaging of natural resources” and an alleged list of “other crimes committed since 1881,” including supporting former president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.
Tunisia and France: a long story of colonialism
With attention to that fact that Tunisia was a French protectorate, there were many uprising and riots. From 1881 until it gained independence in 1956, French authorities ruled the North African country. In 1957, Tunisia has declared a republic with Habib Bourguiba as its president.
However, the first-ever Tunisian president was overthrown in a bloodless coup in 1987 following allegations that he had become senile, and after doctors declared he was unfit to rule.
Then prime minister Ben Ali was appointed president, a post he held until he was ousted in the country’s 2010-2011 uprising.
The uprising was the trigger for similar revolts that toppled autocratic leaders across the region in a wave of protest dubbed the Arab Spring.