Taking photos in Tunisia

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Last Saturday night, riding the empty metro with some jerk friends nd taking some memorial photos (refer to my photolog) when suddenly a security customer (usually assigned to the metro through the hottest nights with increasing violence in Saturdays and beyond the midnights service) get out the driver booth and told me :"taking photos in the train is prohibited !! give me your camera !", so my reaction was a big exclamation, my friends stood up and I told him that we were taking self photos, as he smelt the breeze of alcohol he gave up his fury.

The point is every time I tried to take a photo some guy usually the security forces, or even a simple employee, shows up and ask me to stop taking photos, as if I were shooting a nuclear plant or his daughter naked, damn world ! how can I practice photographing if everywhere my cam becomes a spy's gadget ?

As locals taking photos of the market, people, the little wood next to your city around is always are not welcome : they will ask you to stop, or who you are ? or in some extreme cases :"show me you ID !", ans so on, even I have developed many techniques of camouflage such as holding the cam in my hand and press the trigger, or try to find a hideout where nobody would notice me, or just talk with the people around creating some kind of friendship that leads to a unlimited photographing license, sometimes I have even paid to take shots.

Despite, If you're a tourist to a resident foreigner (or just look like), you'll just get smiles everywhere and take photos as free as a you were shooting your personnel garden, the police, or the people around won't disturb your open photo workshop : God Bless Tourism !

I don't understand this exaggerated awareness about the camera, or is it just about the media ? thus that most of the Tunisian think that all local photographers are working certainly for a newspaper, and their rear is justified as the press has been publishing unauthorized photos of many people without any permission for decades (the law has been fixed a few years ago), and all those photographers were pretending to be just making photos for joy or as souvenirs !

But the point is that Tunisian don't really understand photography, except wedding or ID portrait, here in this country we don't trust a man with a Camera, just because we don't know him or we haven't asked for his services, we don't see the photos with art issues as they could harm our life making us uncovered.

It's in the late years with the increasing popularity of the digital photography, that usual people shoot in the open air and that people are accepting those devices becoming a usual tool to memorize warm moments or just for fun, led by the outnumbering of the cell phones with camera, the freak is still on, but it's getting less expressed to avoid getting damned as a retarded and primate person.

For the police two main reasons are making photography a real state enemy:
First, as those toys cam make videos, they have lately a useful tool to many people who started a propaganda videos, sex scenes or event took shocking videos who instantly spread over the web. Two stories are making sense to this : Two high school teacher shoot their self while making love, and the other is about a dancing policeman.
Secondly, the terrorism threat is making our national security more aware of ... everybody, yes me and you and the guy pissing on the wall, as I've said before, we have no thought about art coming through photos, if you're making a photo of the metro, you're certainly getting ready to blow it, if you have take photos of an office, you'll certainly come by night and steal its precious documents and if it's not you, you'll certainly send it to someone else, if ever you have no intention to any of those terrifying actions, someone in the web will use you photos as a material to harm our beloved republic. In one word, we don't need your photos you can still make peaceful pencil drawings in a paper.

I have asked to colleagues graduated in law to find to make research and find me all about photography in the Tunisian law, the output will be published as soon as possible, and then I'll get rid or may be of all this stupid behavior.

Finally, I just want to say , that I want make photos for fun, I don't want to get nagged by a dirty bastard every time I tried to make an artistic photo,I don't want to harm none, and I'd like to hear from your experiences and how do you faces such problems.

This is just a republish of an article I did write 2 years ago, since that things haven't changed a lot.

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