For decades now, Star Wars fans have made pilgrimages into the North African country of Tunisia, visiting sets and locations used for the desert planet of Tatooine and adding a little tourism boost to the Tunisian economy while they're at it. We've seen plenty of fan photos from people heading out to the Lars homestead, or the Skywalker slave quarters, or the moisture farms, but now the United States and other governments are issuing travel warnings for people journeying to Tunisia, due to mounting terrorist activity tied to the extremist group ISIS.
Tataouine is a small city in southeastern Tunisia, about 60 miles from the country's border with Libya, and according to a new report from CNN, it's becoming a kind of "way-station" for Jihadists hoping to cross the border into ISIS-controlled parts of Libya to receive training. Earlier this month, three men were arrested in Tataouine for planning to cross the border and join terrorist groups in Libya, and two arms caches have recently been uncovered, stocked with rocket-propelled grenade launchers and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
If the name "Tataouine" sounds familiar to you, it's because it was indeed the inspiration for the name of the Star Wars planet Tatooine, where the Skywalker family has its roots. George Lucas and company traveled to the region, and other parts of Tunisia, in 1976 to begin filming Star Wars (Steven Spielberg would also later visit the country for parts of Raiders of the Lost Ark) and would return again to film new locations for the prequel movies decades later. Tataouine itself was never used in filming, but it's visited by Star Wars fans not just for its name, but because from there you can easily reach some key locations, including two of the sites used for the slave quarters in The Phantom Menace.
Now, as terrorist activity in the region builds, the United State Embassy has issued a warning to avoid border areas in Tunisia like Tataouine, and the British government has asked its citizens not to visit the region except for "essential travel." So, if you're planning a visit, Star Wars-related or otherwise, you might want to think twice for the moment.
(Via Huffington Post)