“Today I will make you remove that niqab! “
Amal, 30 years old, Great Tunis
In July 2020, Amal found the courage to take her case to the administrative court to denounce more than 10 years of police harassment due to her being registered “fichée”. Searches, street arrests, home visits, summonses to the police station and humiliating interrogations have made her life and that of her family a nightmare. Amal is one of the thousands of people "listed as S", who are subjected to arbitrary administrative control measures by the police, with dramatic psychological, social and economic consequences.
Divorced and mother of a family, Amal, 30 years old, has been wearing the niqab for many years. She says that police harassment against her began before the revolution. Between 2011 and 2017, her home and that of her parents were raided several times. From 2017, the police changed their mode of surveillance. That year, she was arrested in front of a hotel in the mondane suburbs of Tunis, as she was heading to the hospital to see her sick daughter. Seeing a woman in niqab, the hotel management called the police. Two plainclothes officers arrived at the location, asked Amal for her identity card and requested that she accompany them to the police station. When she refused and inquired about the reasons, they took her away by force.
Once at the police station, three officers questioned her about her way of praying and her links with the Salafist movement. She was then brought before the public prosecutor on the pretext that she refused to give her identity to the officers who arrested her. According to Amal the prosecutor reproached her for having circulated in this district and told her that there were places in which a woman like her could not go, presumably because of the wearing of the niqab. Amal thinks that her file dates back to this incident. However, she was only informed of this in June 2018 during an identity check in downtown Tunis when she was out with friends. The officers took her and her friends to the local police station. Amal was interrogated about her religious practices, the TV channels she watches, the books she reads, who she hangs out with, the reasons that led her to wear the niqab, etc. One of her interrogators told her: "Today, I will do everything to make you take off that niqab! No one has ever continued to wear it after being interrogated by me”. She was finally released when her lawyer arrived at 2am, after nine hours of detention.
She has since then been arrested on numerous occasions. In 2019, after one of these arbitrary arrests, she was taken to the police station where she was subjected to a very humiliating full-body search. The following year, during one of the arrests she was taken to a police station where officers beat her to force her to sign documents in which she claimed to have extremist ideas. Then she was taken to another police station where she was questioned for the umpteenth time about her religious practices, her reading material, her relationships...
More recently, she was fired from her job because of police pressure on her employer and was again assaulted near her home by police officers trying to check her identity.