The life of European immigrant communities: Egypt and Tunisia
Religious life in Tunisia
In the adopted countries of European migrants, on the whole different religious communities coexisted peacefully alongside indigenous religious groups.
One consequence of mass migration was the growth of different religious communities, especially Jews and Roman Catholics. An indigenous Jewish population (the Touensa) had lived in Tunisia since pre-Christian times. In the 17th century there had been a migration of Jews from Livorno (the Grana). A new wave of European Jews migrated to Tunisia in the 19th century. Unlike Tunisian Jews, the newcomers shared the legal status of the Europeans.

The presence of a small group of Christian residents in Tunisia predated mass migration. The tolerant attitude of the local ruler (the Bey) to Christianity is epitomised by the presence, in the Bey’s Bardo complex, of a chapel for the few Catholics working in his service. Under the French protectorate especially, the number of Catholics and Catholic churches multiplied, and Catholic religious orders opened schools in different towns. The Greek Orthodox Christian community also grew.
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The life of European immigrant communities: Egypt and Tunisia

The political and juridical framework
Social and political life
Religious life in Tunisia
Leisure activities
A Jewish family


National Library of France , Paris, France

Maurice Guibert

Indigenous Tunisian Jews (Touensa) spoke Tunisian Arabic. Their food and customs were similar to those of their Muslim neighbours. However, they had a lower legal and social status: for example, they had to pay a special tax, could not bear arms, and men had to wear a black chéchia (Tunisian hat) instead of the red one reserved to Muslims.

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In this Exhibition
About the Exhibition
Privateering and captivity in the Mediterranean
Migrations within the Ottoman Empire
North–South movements
The life of European immigrant communities: Egypt and Tunisia