Amid Security Threats, Tunis' Only Kosher Restaurant Shutters : The Salt NPR first visited Jacob LaLoush's restaurant, a vestige of Tunisia's ancient and once-thriving Jewish community, in 2012. But the country has become more restive in the years since the Arab Spring.
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Amid Security Threats, Tunis' Only Kosher Restaurant Shutters

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Amid Security Threats, Tunis' Only Kosher Restaurant Shutters

Amid Security Threats, Tunis' Only Kosher Restaurant Shutters

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/454518436/454518437" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

A kosher restaurant in Tunisia is closing. It is the last kosher restaurant in that country's capital. The Jewish-run restaurant is shutting down because of terrorist threats. As we're about to hear, it is one of the many aftershocks in this country where the Arab Spring began.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

You know, I visited that kosher restaurant a few years ago. We were traveling across North Africa, and we took a table with the owner, Jacob LaLoush. We'd heard his restaurant served a vodka-like concoction made from figs called bouha (ph).

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JACOB LALOUSH: Do you want to try it?

INSKEEP: I thought you'd never ask.

LALOUSH: (Laughter) Just a minute.

INSKEEP: He goes to the freezer and comes back with shot glasses and a small green bottle covered in frost.

Do you drink it all in one shot, or do you sip it?

LALOUSH: (Foreign language spoken). You test first, and after you - in one shot.

INSKEEP: To LaLoush, alcohol symbolized freedom in a majority Muslim country. He celebrated that freedom even though, because of medication, he couldn't drink. That was 2012. In 2015, his restaurant is closing. He told us by phone that authorities informed him of possible attack.

LALOUSH: I'm obliged to close my restaurant because it's a security obligation for my clients, my mother and me.

INSKEEP: His country has become more restive since the Arab Spring. Islamist movements have emerged, some peaceful and some less so. Yet, LaLoush remained cheerful on the phone.

LALOUSH: I have a big hope for Tunisia, and I want to stay here. I want to continue my action in the cultural life of my country.

INSKEEP: He plans to open a new restaurant in a different neighborhood, and he says he will preserve the Kosher menu and threw it a slice of Jewish culture, although for security, the new restaurant will serve customers by invitation only.

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