Martyrs’ Day in Tunisia

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

The events of this day played a significant role in the struggle for Tunisia’s liberation from French control and led the country on a road to self-rule that culminated in Tunisian independence on March 20, 1956, and the proclamation of the Republic of Tunisia on July 25, 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 was not 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 crafted a confrontational approach towards the French government that would make them accept independence. They used demonstrations and riots to throw French colonial powers off balance.

On April 9, 1938, protesters filled the streets of Tunis to demand the creation of a Tunisian government. The demonstration became violent, and one police officer and 22 protesters were killed, with an additional 150 people injured. This set the country on the path towards independence, but it would still be another two 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 (2024)
April 9 Tuesday
Next year (2025)
April 9 Wednesday
Last year (2023)
April 9 Sunday