Tunisia document orders monitoring veiled women

Security called for recruiting spies, watching cyber cafes


A security document signed by Zein El Abedin Ben Ali revealed that the ousted Tunisian President demanded close monitoring of places and people regarded as a threat to national security.

A secret interior ministry document found among dozens of secret files contained a direct order to the head of Tunisia’s state security and heads of the sub-divisions of coordination and implementation to watch internet cafes and write lists of people who frequenly use them in coordination with the cafes’ owners.

The document also ordered the monitoring of women who wear “sectarian outfit,” meaning the headscarf, and to pay special attention to those wearing the face veil, or the niqab.

“Sectarian outfit” is a name commonly used by Tunisian security forces to refer to clothes that denote religious devoutness or extremism.

Security forces, according to the document, are to watch citizens known for their Salafi tendencies especially if they were reported absent from work or home for a long time and to make sure they do not travel to any of the “tension zones,” a term used to refer to Algeria, Palestine and Iraq.

Regular searching campaigns are to be launched on Islamists’ homes and security is to provide the ministry with detailed reports of any new members of Salafi groups as well as people who start frequently visit mosques in a suspicious way.

The document points out to the necessity of recruiting spies among average people especially peddlers and drivers of public means of transportation.

The document warns of risks to which foreigners are subjected after recent threats to target Christians and Jews, especially in the light of the latest statement by al-Qaeda’s second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri.

It specified paying close attention to foreign ships that stop at the commercial port of Bizerte in the north and to offer the necessary protection for its crew members both during their presence in the port and at their residences.

The document reveals concerns of security personnel and government officials over the reaction of the people to the continuous repressive measures they practice against them. For this reason, the document states that it is important to tighten security around interior ministry buildings as well as enhancing the body guard system.

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)