Speaking in an interview with Nedaye Enghelab, Ayatollah Hadavi Tehrani, head of the Porch of Wisdom Cultural Institute gave a brief report on his journey to Tunisia. He explained his observations of the situation of the people of this country following the collapse of Ben Ali's dictatorial regime.
He said, "It was my second journey to Tunisia and I had also travelled to Tunisia 5 years before the revolution in this country. During that time, an extremely suffocating atmosphere was prevailing all over this country. A horrible police system was governing in a way such that no one was permitted to speak a word that was least likely to be at the disadvantage of the government. I had travelled to Tunisia at a time which was coincident with the anniversary of the demise of late Imam Khomeini (r.a.). I had to give a lecture to intellectuals, writers and university professors and I had been told not to say anything about Imam Khomeini and the Islamic revolution of Iran, otherwise the police would storm in. One of the professors who was in the gathering enquired about Imam Khomeini's mysticism (Irfan) causing the atmosphere of the meeting to become a little tense. Later I heard that he had been arrested by police the next day."
"Despite the Tunisian government's anti-Islamic activities, I could see that the Tunisian youths were interested in Islam and I noticed a religious interest under Tunisia's nonreligious layer. This year, when I travelled to Tunisia, I noticed that women are free to wear Islamic modest dress and that hijab has spread in the country with women and educated girls as well as university students adhering to Islamic dress code. There was a time when only aged women used to wear Hijab in smaller cities. There were no mass prayers held during the previous regime but at present congregational and Friday prayers are held everywhere with an overwhelming number of people attending them," he added.
Lecturer at the postgraduate level of jurisprudence and legal studies further said that the popular movement, as interpreted by Tunisian intellectuals, are Islamic motives, and the freedom which has been provided in this country has given the Islamic faith an opportunity to reemerge. The Tunisian intellectuals believe that Tunisia will be outwardly more Islamic in future.
Head of the Porch of Wisdom Cultural Institute noted, "Indeed, I should mention that the common prevalent culture of the people of Tunisia is non-religious because Tunisia has been one of the French colonies for a long time and because Tunisia is still under the influence of cultural colonialism. The people of Tunisia have been educated and brought up in a secular environment but the same people began to show their keenness towards the religion as soon as they achieved freedom."
Speaking about the opinion of Tunisian people towards the Islamic revolution of Iran, Ayatollah Hadavi said, "The intellectuals and enlightened people of this country have been acquainted with Imam Khomeini (r.a) from the past, and during my visit to this country five years ago, they expressed their love towards the great founder of the Islamic revolution. However, in the public level unfortunately due to the activities of the anti-Iran media, endeavors have been made to create phobia in the minds of the general public against the Islamic republic of Iran to the extent that some people believe that there is a strict and radical Islam governing in Iran. It is very interesting to explain the realities of Iran to the people of this country. This journey's experience revealed that it would be very interesting for the people of Tunisia, if it is explained to them that how we have been able to actualize Islamic values in a modern and current-day government and how we have managed to adjust the peaceful coexistence of various Islamic religions and of various faiths in Iran."
He reiterated at the end, "One of the duties of our media is to transfer the experience of the Islamic revolution of Iran especially in the area of legislation to the people of Tunisia because this country is going elect people who will prepare the drafts of the Tunisian constitution. The incidents that have taken place in Tunisia are very much characteristic of the incidents that took place during the early days of the Islamic revolution of Iran. Without doubt, transferring the experience of the Islamic revolution to Tunisia can be inspirational for them and there exists the eagerness among the people of this country."
Office of Ayatollah Mahdi Hadavi Tehrani