“Problems started since university times, when a student from my dorm decided to throw me out the window, if not for my friend Atef Khawaja, , who held him back in the last moment , and that is because of a debate we had about Islam.”
With these words, the Tunisian young man Ghazi El Beji started telling me his story with the religious oppression that transformed his life to a terrifying nightmare. It made him live his days followed by Tunisian police and a group of citizens that assigned themselves the duty of protecting religion.
Ghazi spoke to me after he and his friend (about whom I will talk later) were sentenced in absentee to seven and a half years of prison and a fiscal penalty of 1200 Tunisian Dinars, by a court in Mahdia.
Ghazi El Beji graduated from university in 2007, he did not find a degree appropriate job, so worked as a ticket agent in the coast metro in Tunis. During his work, his colleagues have discovered his atheism, and started harassing him and calling him anathema until the news spread around to everyone in the agency. His fellow ticket agent kept him from getting on the train unless he states that he is Muslim in front of everyone, so Ghazi did in order to be left alone, but that did not prevent him getting fired from work due to the numerous accusations of heresy.
Afterwards, Ghazi started working in the alimentary dough factory in Sousse, and he was busted eating during the day in Ramadan. His colleagues started asking why he wasn’t fasting, so he answered that he was sick and cannot , but they insisted on bothering him and the problems started growing and questions rising :”why don’t you pray? Why don’t you read the Quran?” Until he could not stand it anymore, so he told them that he does not believe in what they worship, and that he is free in what he thinks , but no one understood his position and Ghazi became everyone’s worry in the factory, and they named him “Abu Lahab”.
Afterwards the matter reached the administration so they called him and made him state that he was Muslim, and asked him various questions such as “who is your God?”… He told them that he came to the factory to work and that religion was not related to the efforts he makes for the factory. Nevertheless, this statement did not help, but rather worsened the matter: everyone started hating and avoiding him. He was ejected by all, and the factory director was glancing at him with scorn, and giving him non-innocent illusions thinking that he was homosexual, as his colleagues asked him about his opinions concerning sex and homosexuality, so he was eventually fired regardless his good performance.