Tunisian Muslims have been able to worship freely since the revolution. After the overthrow of ex-President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali on the 14th of January, Tunisians have started to worship freely after 55 years. During the reign of Ben Ali, the mosques were closed except at prayer times. Now there are big groups of people freely performing prayers at the mosques that are always open. It is also remarkable that the youth, who were born during the reign of his dictatorship, are deeply interested in Islam. Although the state TV channel never broadcast a program involving religion, people have been interested in satellite TV channels that broadcast programs containing religious material for the last 10 years.
Al-Fateh Grand Mosque, at the center of Tunisia, now enjoys huge crowds that overflow to the street for Friday sermons. Tarik Marzuki states, “… Today’s breeze of freedom leads people from all social classes to rush to the mosques”.
Now, in the evenings, people find a great opportunity to participate in the religious conversations, interpretations and hadith (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah bless him and grant him peace)) lessons that are being held in the mosques.
An increase in women wearing hijabs on the streets is another striking change. Under Ben Ali, women who covered their hair in the Islamic tradition, the hijab, were denied access to education and jobs. Also during the reign of Habib Bourguiba, the founding president of Tunisia, women wearing a hijab endured great difficulties in their working and social lives, even while walking down the street. 23 year old university student Omer Fahri expressed his feelings as, “Now the pressure is over and women who used to fear wearing a hijab are freely wearing their hijab. To our surprise, every day we see another girl wearing her hijab at the university.”