Face of revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia

Khaled Sulaiman

Egyptian critic Khaled Sulaiman is known for his theatrical taste through his articles. He now lives in Tunisia, which he adored ever since his first visit twenty years ago. He participated in the most prominent revolutions in the Arab Spring. Khaled Sulaiman represents AJA in Tunisia, and works as a reporter for The AsiaN, Arabic version, there. This is an interview with him:

Q. Mr Khaled, since when did you start to live in Tunisia permanently?
A. Four years ago, but I knew it ever since 1992 and I’ve been visiting since then.

Q. What changed in Tunisia, between being a visitor and staying in it?
A. I rediscovered Tunisia I thought I knew, through living the daily life of ordinary Tunisian people in markets and buying meat and vegetables and arguing with some housewives and farmers in markets like “Sedi Abd Al-Salam” market and not the luxurious ones Ben Ali shadowed the country with. Living like this made me realize the real lives of Tunisian people and not how Ben Ali portrayed them, by the help of French media.

Q. What changed in your relationships with the cultural circles in Tunisia?
A. I started to differentiate between what’s real and what’s fake, by the help of one of my closest friends the Tunisian thinker, Ezzediene Al Madny.

Q. You’re interested in the Tunisian Theater; do you see that it’s still the same?
A. The Tunisian theater is suffering a big problem for about eight years ever since Ali Bin Aiad and his discoveries in theater. Right now, theater activities are very limited and mainly are comic-like and are called “one man show” even if the performer is a female. If you wanted to see real theater that at least have some requirements in Tunisia, it would be in distant regions. The problem is, they’re mostly distant places and if you managed to find transportation or somewhere to stay, and if you found both you might not find enough promotions. Some major theatrical groups like Qafsa, you’d only hear about them through relations or something like it.

Q. After the revolution, people started to express themselves more, would theater become affected by it too?
A. Theater is already affected, but it won’t witness a reborn before all audiences would stop all the chaos & nonsense. Theater isn’t about using immorality and indecency as if it was some street fight, though some theater people would say that just to spite competition.

Q. Is there’s any similarity between Cultural scene in Tunisia & Egypt, especially with their revolutions so close?
A. Of course, though the cultural scene in Egypt is much older and has strong bases, cultural scene in Tunisia is capable of taking control. Also the intellectual elite in Egypt are supportive of the revolution and give so many advices, which isn’t the same in Tunisia. The elite in Tunisia were singing on the TV while Tunisian people on the streets were getting killed.

Q. As for the media, is it similar in Egypt & Tunisia, how the media was before the revolution?
A. The media was completely clear since the beginning, some supported and others opposed, and the third section are those who couldn’t really decide on which side to be with, until they saw that the revolution was winning. In Tunisia, It’s different as there’s no objectivity in media for over 23 years. The majority is supportive of the ruler yet somehow some of them managed to take over the revolution, and the opposition who is sadly really underestimated.

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