8 September 2023

High school girls in Kasserine, Tunisia, in 2016.

The controversy raised in Tunisia by the series Fallujah is commensurate with its success: enormous. Directed by Saoussen Jemni, the soap opera broadcast during Ramadan on the private television channel Elhiwar Ettounsi brought together no less than 2.3 million spectators when it was launched on March 24, after breaking the fast, approaching 70% of share. of hearing. A popularity that has taken hold despite strong criticism from some representatives of national education.

The series follows a group of students in conflict with their families and the teaching world

Degradation, drug trafficking and consumption within the school premises, inappropriate behavior with teachers… The series, which takes its name from the Iraqi city that became a bastion of resistance against the American army during the second Gulf War, follows a group of students in conflict with their families and the teaching world. “Welcome to Fallujah” : in the first episode, this is the tag discovered on her car by a freshly arrived professor.

Denouncing a sensationalist staging of the difficulties encountered by certain schools, the Minister of Education, Mohamed Ali Boughdiri, described the soap opera as “fiasco” on local radio Diwan FM. Fallujahhe underlined, undermines the educational institution and harms “considerably like the Tunisian school”.

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In the process, lawyers Saber Benammar and Hassan Ezzedine Diab took legal action to demand the outright cessation of the series. One of them split a post on Facebook accusing the soap opera of“introduce the teachings of Freemasonry into schools in place of the values ​​of Islam and authentic Arab morality”. An argument that the High Court of Tunis clearly did not accept: the request for suspension filed by the lawyers was rejected on March 27.

“Opening the debate on the school”

However, critics of Fallujah did not take off. “The scenario poorly represents the reality in our high schools and colleges”assures Raouf Chakhari, Deputy Secretary General of the Federation of Education secondary: “As a union, we asked the Minister of Education to stop the soap opera from the first episodes. We have not been heard. » In particular, he criticizes the series for exaggerating the consumption and trafficking of narcotics among adolescents, describing this problem as “minimal”. Worse, Fallujah encourage consumption “showing students who weren’t taking drugs how to do it”, he believes.

“Our education system is filled with violence and conflict between generations”

But not all teachers share this view. For Mounir Hassine, who works in a high school in Monastir, the serial has the merit of opening the debate on the school, it should above all not be censored”. According to him, the problems related to drugs, to the indiscipline of the pupils, to aggressive behavior do indeed exist, and they must be confronted. Our education system is filled with violence and conflict between generations. When I speak with my students, I find that they are very critical of this system full of pressures and punishments that imprisons them”underlines the professor of geography, regional president of the Tunisian Forum of the economic and social rights (FTDES).

Read also: Ramadan in a Tunisia in crisis: “There is no more tagine on the table! »

According to this organization, nearly 100,000 students left the Tunisian education system each year between 2010 and 2020. Faced with this phenomenon, Raouf Chakhari and Mounir Hassine agree on the lack of resources allocated by the ministry and on the obsolescence school programs. “It’s been twenty-two years that it’s been the same lessons, the same program. That is a problem that can be solved and the scenario of Fallujah don’t approach it,” denounces Raouf Chakhari.

Requested by The world about the controversy aroused by his soap opera, Saoussen Jemni did not respond. The 20e and final episode will air on Wednesday, April 12.

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