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I’ve finally gotten around to setting up a website for my videojournalism and other journalistic freelancing. I went with a quick install of wordpress to keep it simple. I’ll still be posting here, but this next one is supposed to be a little more pro…here it is – Bill Code Media. 

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Update: If you’re in Australia or New Zealand, please watch this film here on the smh.tv websiteand not below on YouTube. You’ll keep a freelance journalist fed that way.

After the Tunisian revolution, the Islamist-led coalition government is facing pressure from the liberal elite on one side, and Muslim hardliners on the other. But one group it needs to focus on, as ever, are the youth of the country’s interior; still unemployed, still unsatisfied, and still fighting eighteen months after kicking off the Arab Spring. This is the first of two current affairs films I’m cutting on returning from Tunisia. As the watermark shows, Journeyman Pictures are helping promote it. Fingers crossed – if you’re interested in screening it in full or in part, leave a comment or hit me up @billcode on Twitter.

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Can’t write – busy editing film on Tunisia quick-sharp – but here’s a piece which appeared in New Matilda this week.

Some of the worst violence since the 2011 revolution hit cities across Tunisia on Tuesday after an art exhibition deemed blasphemous to Islam became a target for ultra-conservative Muslims protesters.

Police stations, a courthouse, and the offices of secular political groups were targeted in a wave of violence which saw 165 arrests and scores of injuries.

For many secular Tunisians, the violence was no surprise; Salafist groups and their followers are staking their claims in the post-revolutionary landscape, and the government is accused of being too soft.

The moderate Islamists who lead the government were quick to put a curfew in place in many cities as well as blame “terrorists” for the violence.

As they wake up — some may say finally — to the threat on their religious right, it’s worth noting that other interest groups are also speaking up, gay and lesbian Tunisians among them.

If you’d asked me where in Tunisia you might stumble across a bar which serves as a gay meeting place, I would have picked where I’ve been living — Tunis.

But then I visited the mass-tourism coastal town of Sousse.

 
And if you’re a current affairs EP – I’m selling a bloody great film on Tunisia this week! 

Here’s a recent blog post for SBS News on Tunisia’s Jewish community and the Ghriba festival of Djerba.

‘My son moved away to France, all of the young people did’, the lady showing me around Tunis’s huge Synagogue tells me.

‘How would they find someone to marry here?’

Amid the enormous art deco building heavily guarded day and night, it was a reminder of how the Jewish population of Tunisia has seen its population shrink in the twentieth century.

We sat in a small antechamber where today’s ceremonies are held; there are only a few hundred Jews left in Tunis; down from a national population of perhaps a hundred thousand at the time of the creation of Israel. Many have headed there, and to France.

I visit the Synagogue in the morning before heading down to the island of Djerba for the famed Jewish Ghriba pilgrimage.

Read this post at SBS News.

After seven weeks of trying, I finally interviewed Ennahda leader Rashid Ghannouchi, who will feature in one or two of the current affairs films I am producing on life in post-revolution Tunisia.

It was quite a privilege – he’s clearly one of the most important Islamists in the world, and perhaps the most important person in Tunisia right now. If it’s policy, he’s had a big say.

Here’s the section where I field a few questions on Ennahda’s stance on press freedom in Tunisia.
 
 
Some of these thoughts feature in a piece I wrote on press freedom which appeared in New Matilda.
 
If you’d like to know more about the films I am making on life for religious minorities in the wake of the revolution, as well as the huge economic and political challenges facing the new government, leave a comment or fire a tweet @billcode
 

UNESCO focused its 3 May World Press Freedom Day events in Tunis, a symbolic move celebrating the hard-won privileges of a year of Arab uprisings. From the plush presidential palace he now calls home, former human rights activist Moncef Marzouki indulged in a Google Plus hangout to extol the virtues of the coalition government in which his leftist party is a junior partner with the Islamists of Ennahda.

But most journalists were crowded around the front of a colonial era courthouse on the other side of town, waiting for the result of the “Persepolis affair”. The case was brought against Nessma TV for airing the animated French-Iranian film, due to the depiction of God in one short scene. The provocative broadcast had sparked violence from offended Salafists at the station’sHQ and the home of its owner.

Suddenly, there was a buzz of activity when news went around the sunny courtyard that the owner was to be fined 2400 Dinar (around AUD$1500) for showing the film, while a smaller fine went to those who dubbed it into Tunisian Arabic.

The ruling and subsequent message was clear. “Disturbing public order and threatening proper morals” — by offending Islam — was not going to be tolerated in post-revolution Tunisia. Prosecuting lawyers said they’d appeal the “lenient” sentence.

In this piece for New Matilda, I speak to renowned Tunisian journalist Fahem Boukadous, Reporters Sans Frontiere’s Olivia Gré, and Ennahda leader Rachid Ghannouchi. Continue reading.

 

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1) Tunis medina street art – Vote! 2)Pro-niqab sticker at Manouba University. 3)25 sugars with your sweetened green tea? 4&5)It looks like KFC..the artwork is KFC..but it is not KFC; both a good and bad thing. 6)Arabic grammar. 7) Bourguiba Institute students react to Arabic grammar. 8)Breakfast. 9) Royal Dick hamburger, anyone? 10)Rotting hulk of magnificent French building, Tunis. 11)Large spray-painted mural – not quite graffiti – in Tunis medina. 12) Justin Bieber fans show their love in Djerba. I’m picturing the teenage girl (or was it?) who painted this one night. 13)Tethered sheep ponder their fate next to the BBQ, Kairouan.