Tunis - On April 3, five students at the Bazina Preparatory School in Bizerte, northern Tunisia, attempted A few days before, young terrorists attacked the Bardo Museum in Tunis.
Tunis – On April 3, five students at the Bazina Preparatory School in Bizerte, northern Tunisia, attempted A few days before, young terrorists attacked the Bardo Museum in Tunis.
Morocco World News recently met with Lilia Ben Hmida, director of programs at the Tunisian Association for Management and Social Stability (TAMS), to discuss what causes young people to turn towards suicide or terrorism and what can be done for prevention. Ben Hmida said, “A lot of free time kills the spirit, leads young people either to kill themselves or kill others.”
MWN: What activities can maintain social stability, especially for young people?
LBH: There are, in my opinion, four main aspects to maintain mental stability among youth. Our association, which started in 2006 and aims to contribute to the economic and social integration of people living in disadvantaged areas and in adverse conditions, works on women entrepreneurship, strengthening capacities of new associations, the granting of services such as vocational training, and business management to ensure our beneficiaries the opportunity to learn how to trade and manage a mini project. We also have projects in the fight against violence towards women and in the field of sustainable tourism, which is now facing the threat of terrorism.
MWN: How can such associations help in reducing the impact of terrorism on tourism?
LBH: We cannot resolve this problem if all parties do not come together around a table. If we work hand in hand, I think we can achieve our goals. Several countries, such as Morocco and France, experienced terrorist incident[s], but the impact was quickly overcome when politicians, travel influencers, and media reported the action taken by these countries that intended to eradicate terrorism. For their part, associations must work in the other direction: on the input.
Their work is to help young people who need to be educated in citizenship in order to avoid any slippage towards terrorism.
MWN: What explains this “slippage” to terrorism?
LBH [thinking a while]: One of the reasons for terrorism, in my opinion, is the so-called “nothing to do” that emanates from disadvantaged social conditions, because these young people do not have enough money to afford training [or] occupy their free time with music, theater, etc. This is not the only reason, but by providing effective answers to this problem, we can reduce its impact in Tunisia.
When young people are in a desperate situation, they become ready to do anything for a few dinars. I believe that helping young people integrate into the economy would be a big step.
MWN: What are the steps that helped you in integrating young people into economic life?
LBH: We started our program with literacy classes. We organized professional workshops in which women and youth learned sewing, painting and pastry, in collaboration with public institutions.
Then we gave them the opportunity to continue leadership training, communication and management. We also worked on mini-projects of enterprises and financial literacy, and we tried to guide youth in funding research for establishing new projects. If someone has a stable income, he or she will be less inclined to violence.
MWN: What are the measures you intend to take to contribute to the eradication of violence?
LBH: We must raise awareness about what is citizenship. A “total” citizen never becomes a terrorist. We have to work on several components and provide an opportunity for these young people who want to integrate the economic resources and access to the financial and administrative ways to find a job. We should encourage people to have an occupation that is generating income.
MWN: How can we reconcile social stability with political stability?
LBH: We have had many governments since 2011. This discontinuity did not encourage social stability, but I have hope in the new government, which organized marches and demonstrations to ‘say no to terrorism’ and to all forms of violence. Social dialogue is much needed today. After the quartet national dialogue, which led to a certain political stability and the national economic dialogue, now there should be a national social dialogue to avoid such problems. We must not give up, and terrorism should not scare us. We must continue to work.
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