tunisia, testour, and tolerance


The recent events in Tunisia remind me of visiting the North African nation during Ramadan 2009.  Nestled among the Roman ruins, Star Wars sets, the dusty leftovers from “The English Patient”, some of the last remaining troglodyte dwellings, and miles and miles of vendors selling “desert roses” is one image in particular that stands out.  Tucked away in the middle of windy streets in Testour, an ancient town rebuilt by Andalusian Muslim and Jewish refugees after their 17th century expulsion from Spain, stands the Grand Mosque.  This mosque is in many ways not unlike many of the others, in a state of ill-repair, a minaret or two, etc.  What is unique about this mosque, however, is the overt message of tolerance it conveys with one simple decorative touch: the minaret is adorned with two Stars of David.  To my knowledge (and correct me if I am wrong) this is the only minaret in the Middle East with a Star of David on it – a picture of unity worth many thousands of words.


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jt is a dual citizen of the U.S. and Italy and has a Masters in International Relations. He has traveled to all seven continents and one hundred nine countries and is quite fond of a good cappuccino.