If there is a true nationalist Tunisian leader, who fought till the last fiber of his being, to rid Tunisia of foreign exploitation and domination – it is president Habib Bourguiba. Born in a small fishing village near Tunis in 1903, he went to a French Lycee and read Law in Paris. Returning to Tunis, he practiced law for some time, and then joined the Destour Political Party. But since the aims of this party were too mild and moderate to suit his radical and nationalistic views, in 1934, he found the NeoDestour Party. It is true that able and educated people rallied around him. But in the majority of cases, it was due to his large efforts and abilities that his dearest and enlightened dream of liberating Tunisia from France could materialize.
The French arrested President Bourguiba and kept him in prison for twelve and half years. In 1942, when the Germans occupied Marseilles, they removed him from the fortress there, and handed him over to the Italians, who sent him to Tunisia. Though the German motive behind this act was based on the idea of trying to win Tunisia to the German side, he did quite the opposite. All he was interested in was to win freedom and independence for his homeland. In 1955, the French Government was obliged to come to terms with Mr. Bourguiba. In the same year, Tunisia was granted internal autonomy by the French. When Tunisia was declared an independent state in 1956, he was made prime minister. When the monarchy was abolished in 1957, he was elected President of the Republic of Tunisia, and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.