Martyrs’ Day in Tunisia

Martyrs Day is a holiday that’s observed annually in Tunisia on the 9th day of April. It commemorates all of the Tunisians who sacrificed their lives when French troops attempted to suppress nationalist demonstrations in 1938.

The events of this day would play a big role in the struggle for Tunisia’s liberation from French control and led the country on a road to self-rule that would end up Tunisian independence on March 20, 1956, and the proclamation of the Republic of Tunisia on July 25th, 1957. This day is marked with smaller events all over Tunisia, but the main one occurs at Sijoumi Martyrs’ Square.

The History Of Martyrs’ Day In Tunisia

During the 19th century, Tunisia came under French control. However, French colonization wasn’t appreciated by the citizens of Tunisia, so the political party Destour was created. The purpose of this party was to begin to pave the way for Tunisian independence.

When Neo Destour was created in 1934, the call for independence grew even louder and the president of this party would craft a confrontational approach towards the French government that would make them accept independence. They used demonstrations and riots to put French colonial powers off their game.

On April 9, 1937, protesters filled the streets of Tunis to demand the creation of a Tunisian government. The demonstration would become violent and 1 police officer and 22 protesters were killed, and an additional 150 people were injured. This would set the country on the path towards independence, but it still would be another 2 decades before that dream became a reality.

Observing Martyrs’ Day In Tunisia

The main ceremony recognizing those who died on Martyrs Day is celebrated at  Sijoumi Martyrs’ Square. Here, people can view the wreath-laying ceremony, and listen to speeches given by politicians and activists.

All across Tunisia, civil groups and government officials also give special speeches that highlight the importance of the sacrifices made on this day. It’s also a day off for the general public, and many businesses are closed.

Where is it celebrated?
Tunisia (Public holiday)
When is it?
This year (2023)
April 9 Sunday
Next year (2024)
April 9 Tuesday
Last year (2022)
April 9 Saturday