A Berber tradition long considered vulgar, tattooing is witnessing a comeback amongst young people.
Tunisia opened the very first tattoo academy in North Africa, inaugurated recently in a trendy area of Tunis, the school is proving increasingly popular amongst Tunisian body art enthusiasts.
In 2016, the founder Fawez Zahmoul made international news when he was beaten up shortly after opening his tattoo parlour in the area of Marsa, northern Tunis.
His crime? A mob accused him of being a Freemason, after noticing a poster outside his parlour’s window, featuring a compass and an eye. Quickly, a group was set up on Facebook named “Tous contre Fawez le tatoueur”, which translates to ‘all against Fawez the tattoo artist’, a page where he was accused of committing satanic rituals within the parlour. The creators of the page proceeded to film the attack and even post it on said page. Unable to stay in Tunisia following threats made against him and his family, Fawez decided to travel in order to sharpen his skills as a tattoo artist.
Fast forward a couple years, the tattoo artist came back to Tunis, in the process successfully managing to acquire the required state licences, this time not just for a parlour but for a school.
Since Tunisia became a somewhat functioning democracy, the country has seen a number of social advances, notably in terms of equality between men an women.
Elsewhere, in other Muslim countries, body art is seen in a negative light by the inhabitants, citing a prohibition made in the Quran against modifying one’s body in any shape or form. Many argue that such a restriction is hypocritical considering that piercings, also modification of the body, are allowed and have been allowed for centuries.
In Algeria, tattooing remains prohibited by the state, however, a small number of tattoo artists operate in the clandestinely, according to our well-informed sources.