Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The El Abdine Mosque of Carthage

This mosque was sitting up high on a hill in Carthage. We saw it from quite a ways a way and decided to go check it out. I ended up talking the guards into letting us walk around its extremity, but as a woman, I was not allowed inside. So I tried to convince my co-worker to go in, but he refused since he's such a scaredy-cat. I was disappointed - the outside was so ornate, and I would've loved to have seen pictures of the inside.
The mosque is absolutely massive though, one of the biggest in the country. The President of Tunisia had it built as a sort of concrete trace of his reign. It has only been open since 2003, and was built on a hill called "La Colline de l'Odeon", just above the remains of an ancient basilica.The site was well-chosen, it offers a beautiful view of the sea and the mountains:A little background info on the president - Zine el Abidine Ben Ali has held office since 1987. He was reelected in 2004 with 94.5% of the vote - though when I asked my client about it, he said it was mostly because there were no opponents, not because everyone was happy with how he was governing. He also said that up until 2002, presidents could only be elected 3 times, but "surprisingly enough", that law was changed to an "unlimited amount of times" just before the end of his third term. He also raised the mandatory presidential retirement age from 70 to 75.Things like this is one of the reasons I like going to Tunisia for business and not vacation - it gives me the chance to talk to the Tunisian version of Joe the Plumber (or Monsieur Tout-le-monde if you're in France). I ask questions, they answer them -mostly- and we all get to compare experiences and cultures. And these past few years, I've come to understand that that's how my brain works - as long as I have some kind of tangible reason or historical reference for why things are they way they are, I can accept it. Ex: the French school system, the French administration, the French work ethic, etc . All of those things used to frustrate me to no end, but now that I understand how they ended up that way, I'm able to just do a gallic shrug and say "C'est comme ça" instead of getting frustrated by it. There's reason behind what seems like insanity at first glance, if you will.

I know not everyone works that way, but asking questions and trying to find the why behind things that once seemed so foreign to my American self has really helped me understand and appreciate France - and now Tunisia as well.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Bob said...

Zine el Abidine Ben Ali appears to be the GW Bush of Tunisia.

May 6, 2009 at 6:35 PM  
Blogger Crystal said...

dear god I hope I find your enlightened philosophy concerning the way France works one day...I'm still in the "frustrated as hell" stage!

May 6, 2009 at 9:26 PM  
Blogger wcs said...

Looks like you had a great time! Except for Mr. co-worker and buying gasoline, that is.

The photos are cool!

May 7, 2009 at 8:53 AM  
Blogger Ksam said...

Thanks Walt! And some people are probably annoyed that I'm posting the pics here AND on facebook, but not everyone's on FB and you can't really write the story behind each picture on it.

May 7, 2009 at 9:05 AM  
Blogger Justin said...

Oh those photos are great! I need to go there and see all of that.

May 7, 2009 at 9:25 AM  

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