PROGRESS TOWARDS FREEDOM AND SHARING BIBLICAL TRUTHS
Tunisia is currently the only democracy in the Arab World. Though the country has taken a positive step toward equal rights, Christians remain marginalised and often face violence.
Following the so-called Jasmine Revolution, which marked the beginning of the 2011 revolutions across the Middle East and North African (MENA) region, many Tunisians anticipated change with high expectations for new freedoms and prosperity. Six years after the Arab Spring, national disappointment and frustration remain.
Amira Yahyaoui, a Tunisian rights activist and blogger on censorship, says the real instability is a democratic instability “in the sense that we’re still a country trying to define itself.” Tunisia has been unable to establish a long-term government; though the New Constitution has introduced certain liberties, fluctuating leadership and core cultural attitudes challenge the pace of change.
However, the country continues to strive towards progress. SAT-7’s Founder and CEO, Dr Terence Ascott, comments that Tunisia has “one of the best models of how a Muslim majority country can find the balance between religion and democracy.”
So where does this balance leave Tunisian Christians?
LIBERATING THE CHURCH
“The Church in Tunisia faces a restriction that cannot be ignored: we can only profess our faith inside churches,” says Father Ilario Antoniazzi, Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Church in Tunisia. Father Ilario became Archbishop in 2013 and has spent more than 50 years in the Middle East. Christians in Tunisia still face restrictions, but he is encouraged by the movement towards religious freedom.
“The New Constitution has introduced freedom of conscience, an important clause that is lacking in the constitutional charters of other North African countries.”
With a population of over 11 million people, Christians in Tunisia account for less than one percent. One of SAT-7’s main strategic priorities within the next three years is to provide more programming to encourage the work and witness of the Church across North Africa. SAT-7 wants to connect and form relationships with isolated believers.
Dr Ascott says, “People become more open to new ideas at a time of turbulence. SAT-7 is providing a platform for meaningful Christian messages of reconciliation and forgiveness in the midst of violence and people’s pain.”
RISING TO MEET THE NEEDS
SAT-7 is launching two new programs specifically tailored to encourage Tunisia’s younger generation.
Rainbow of Promise is hosted by two Tunisian friends, Wajdi and Hanan, who discuss subjects and personal experiences from a Christian perspective. In a North-African Arabic dialect, Wajdi and Hanan raise topics such as persecution, temptation, living with guilt, as well as more positive issues such as how to share your faith, God’s unchangeable nature, and His promise of eternal life.
Rainbow of Promise has already garnered some viewer response. A man from Tunisia contacted SAT-7 saying,
“I am searching for God and the Eternal Light. Please call and help me!”
A YOUNGER HOST
A bright Tunisian-Lebanese teen will also be inspiring young North African viewers on SAT-7 KIDS later this year. With Zack uses engaging technology to communicate the Gospel to digitally–savvy young audiences. The show is hosted by 15-year-old rising star Zack Dabbour. With the aid of advanced technology, Zack will tell stories from the Bible using animation. Zack says:
“I try to interact with viewers and tell biblical stories in a fun way so that they will be eager to watch and learn more about God.”