Habib Bourguiba

Tunisian politician

Habib Bourguiba (3 August 1903 – 6 April 2000) was the first President of Tunisia, from July 25, 1957 until 7 November 1987, when he was removed from office in a coup d'état.

Habib Bourguiba 1960s


  • "I will impose women's freedom and rights by the force of the law, and I will not wait for the democracy of a people duped by male culture in the name of religion."
  • "They struggle to cut hands and heads and we struggle to keep heads high and hands raised."
  • "The relationship between a woman and a man is built on the basis of mutual respect .. The woman is not required to bury herself in life because the man is unable to control his instincts like animals .. The woman raises the man's face, hair, height, width, smell, and even the voice of her is roughened, but the woman has learned to control her instincts. The man is also required to rise to the level of the woman."
  • "I do not think that the time is right to talk about democracy in its absolute concept. Arab societies marginalized their modern thinkers and scholars for the elders who stopped their time before fourteen centuries, which is the difference between us and them .. Therefore, it was necessary to work on spreading a more realistic culture in which modern science has a more open place. Take, for example, if we asked the Tunisian people (he meant former President Bourguiba then and not now) to hold a referendum on his position on women's education, then I can assure that 99.99% will refuse her education."
  • "When a house is on fire, the neighbors' duty is to put it out. ... I hate colonialism, not the French."
  • "The only Jews who interest us are our fellow citizens. ... Basically and profoundly, we are with the West."
  • "While I am alive, not a hair on Jewish heads will be touched."
    • "Religion: Exodus". TIME: p. 1. Friday, July 06, 1962. Retrieved on September 6, 2011. 
  • "We have the proof that our disagreement with the U.A.R. is more than a simple misunderstanding."
  • "Yes, I am Western, and I will remain so."
  • Bourguiba on Gamal Abdel Nasser:
    "not aware of the danger of Communism. Once the Iron Curtain drops, there is no escape."
  • "I have carried this abscess too far, Tunisia is going through a difficult period. Freedom is dangerous."
  • "At the moment of a revolution there is no question of setting up a democracy like that in America. If they accuse me of dictatorship, I accept. I am creating a nation. Liberty must be suppressed until the end of the war in Algeria—until the nation becomes homogeneous."
  • "You are wrong. The state and its existence are essential before everything else. All this preoccupation with liberty is not serious."
  • "How many times, have I had to seat women whom I received at audiences next to me, rather than facing me, in order to avoid general embarrassment? Nothing should compel us to suffer such trials. It puts the nerves of men and the modesty of women to a severe test."
  • Bourguiba on people who patronized the Zéro de Conduite (Zero for Conduct), nightclub:
    "Practice a shameful exhibitionism in morbid and degrading dances."
  • Bourguiba on Ramadan's effect on Tunisia:
    "Stagnation, weakness and decadence ... beautiful custom ... pretext that paralyzes our activity."
  • Bourguiba quoting Muhammad:
    "Break the fast, and you will be stronger to confront the enemy. ... humiliating backward condition of our country."
  • Bourguiba warning the French:
    "it will mean war. ... Today I am the President of the Republic, but I will be the first to join the Maquis. ... Tunisia is always ready to turn the page. ... I have promised the Tunisian people that the French army will go, If I fail, I will be swept away."

Quotes about Bourguiba

  • "a dangerous maniac who actually thinks he might become a figure in world affairs." - French Resident General
  • "Bourguiba is terribly awkward, but he said what most of us believe. The Egyptians take millions from the Communists and have the nerve to call us lackeys for accepting a penny from America."
  • Nasser's Cairo radio on Bourguiba:
    "the same destiny as Nuri as-Said," (the Iraqi premier who was assasinated)
  • "I did not want to be Premier in the first place. I only accepted because Bourguiba pleaded with me to accept." - Interim Premier of Tunisia Tahar ben Amar
  • "Give us arms! Give us arms!"
  • Bourguiba's Neo-Destour Party paper, the L'Action:
    "To be respected in 1958 one can no longer be a friend of the West. The day that Bourguiba decides to follow the path set by Nehru, Tito and Nasser, Tunisia will no longer be lied about and attacked. She will be wooed."
  • El Massa from Beirut:
    "Turn to Cairo, O Habib. Turn to the Arab Republic, to the camp of neutralism and to dignity and sovereignty."
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