Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Regarding geography, culture, and language, where does family background reside?
Nacer Amari: Although, the Tunisian southern region is where most citizens adhere to the religion. Its customs, traditions, and social norms. I grew up in a Berber family with Arab culture where parents are illiterate and not religious.
Jacobsen: How did this influence personal development?
Amari: Usually, it has a negative impact on the child’s personality, but I consider myself to be lucky compared to the children where I grew up, even though my parents were illiterate and managed to raise me without being affected by religion.
Jacobsen: When did you first identify as an atheist?
Amari: I started to have doubts about religion during the high school. I noticed that my colleagues in the high school were praying, but my family’s members were not. This is when I started thinking about the purpose of prayers and religion and the existence of God in general. Then I completely lost my faith in God during the 10th class identifying myself as an atheist.
Jacobsen: You co-founded united atheists of Europe. Why found it? How big is it? What are your aims and concrete goals for the upcoming years?
Amari: Karrar Al Asfoor and I founded this social fraternity when we noticed that there is a need to unify the efforts of atheists across Europe. It is to bring the European atheists to work together with the ex-Muslim community for a secular world.
In the meantime, it is considered a small-sized social fraternity, but it’s open for every atheist who is interested to join. Our future goals are to have the effective means to challenge religions and protecting secularism in Europe and to empower atheists in the Islamic world pushing it into secularism there.
Jacobsen: In Tunisia, you are banned from eating during Ramadan. Why? How are people quietly and openly protesting it?
Amari: The old Tunisian constitution did not prohibit eating during Ramadan, but there was a ban from the Ministry of Interior requiring restaurants and cafes to obtain touristic permits to be able to serve food and drinks during Ramadan with the windows covered.
The constitution has been updated after the revolution with a new chapter, which is called “the good ethics chapter” giving the ban legal status.
Jacobsen: What is the purported purpose and reasoning behind Ramadan?
Amari: The practice of fasting performed by Muslims every year for 14 centuries is a phenomenon of ancient religious rites that has preserved its existence to this day and is not commensurate with any logical scientific explanation.
This is a holy month par excellence for Muslims. It is one of the five pillars of Islam, as they believe that the revelation of the Qur’an was a “night of fate” this month, also the only month of which the name appears in the Koran.
They considered it the “month of charity” because, when it ends, the faithful must pay alms.
Jacobsen: What is the religious climate in Tunisia? How is freedom to criticize religion there?
Amari: The talk about religious aspect in Tunisia is the talk of a conflict that has existed between religious and political since independence, on the face of social-political, but in its depth is political-religious.
After the revolution the Islamists seized the power, the religious climate became very scary, where have been many assassinations, terror attacks, the rise of terrorism, and atonement to date.
The freedom to criticize religion in Tunisia is complicated, because in the new constitution, there is a contradiction in the laws, where we find in the first chapter mentioned that “Islam is the religion of the state.”
However, in chapter six, ” The State protects the religion (Islam), guarantees the freedom of belief, conscience and the exercise of the cults.”
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Nacer.
Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-books, free or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.