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Gritty school drama sparks controversy in Tunisia

Gritty school drama sparks controversy in Tunisia

Entertainment Desk

Tunisia's education minister has lashed out at a Ramadan TV series accused of tarnishing the reputation of schools, while two lawyers launched a bid to take it off the air.

The controversy came after private channel El Hiwar Ettounsi on Thursday evening broadcast the first episode of the soap opera "Fallujah".

Named after a city that became a symbol of Arab resistance for battling American occupation forces after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the series is a drama about a group of high school students, their behaviour towards their teachers and their often difficult home lives.

In one scene, a new teacher is hit on by students in the classroom then finds her car tagged with "Welcome to Fallujah".

In another, a drug dealer in the schoolyard hands out ecstasy tablets to students who then sell them on to classmates.

Education Minister Mohamed Ali Boughdiri told local radio he had alerted Prime Minister Nalja Bouden.

"We will take all necessary measures to take this farce off the air. It has offended families, undermines the entire education system and considerably harms the image of Tunisian schools," he said.

Two lawyers also filed a request to a Tunis court to stop the broadcasts immediately.

"This series deliberately undermines (public) morals and the educational system by disseminating obscenities," lawyers Saber Ben Ammar and Hssan Ezzedine Diab wrote.

Teacher's union the Federation of Secondary Education said the series "seriously harms teachers" and urged the ministry of education to investigate how a private TV channel was able to film in it a public school.

Union chief Lassaad Yaacoubi said the ministry had approved the filming in exchange for giving the school some of the furniture used during the production.

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