IBLA was established because its founders believed that Tunisia would one day become independent. They desired that the Tunisian culture be respected and promoted in all its aspects. They also wanted that Tunisians be supported as protagonists in their own culture. From the first issues of the magazine, certain topics are signed by Tunisians. In 1959, the first introductory signed by a Tunisian, T.Guiga, appeared in an issue devoted to adult education. From 1977 , the magazine’s reading committee was mainly composed of Tunisians.
IBLA’s relations with the French Protectorate authorities have sometimes been unpleasant. On the inauguration day of the Tunisian Circle of Friendship in 1934, the Superior of IBLA,Father André Demeerseman, put the Son of the Bey on his right hand side and the representative of the French Residents on his left hand side. A member of the protocol of the Residency pointed out to him (Fr. André) that it should have been the opposite. Fr. André responded, “I’m at home and I do what I want”.
The exchange of letters between Father André Demeerseman and Mr. Lucien Paye was at the limit of correction, as it showed violence between the two personalities who were always convinced of their opposing views. Observant to the Tunisian reality, the former defended the local personality and its aspirations, thus, he supported nationalism and the explicitness of activists. The latter was a civil servant of colonisation and expressed its ideology, especially regarding the educational programs.
For many outside observers, IBLA may have emerged as an organization dependent on French foreign policies or as an institution that would play a ‘Franco-Tunisian reconciliation’ role. If we had to find a guardianship authority at all costs,we would look more on the Vatican side. IBLA received encouragement from the Pope in January 1938. In 1940, the White Fathers in Tunis were proposed to set up a similar work in Morocco, to which they never gave a positive response. Cardinal Gerlier visited IBLA on April 7 th , 1948. Cardinal Tisserand, who had already visited IBLA in 1938, returned in November 16th, 1954 but this time as a Vatican Secretary for the Oriental Churches. Mr. Sadok Mokaddem and Mr. Hedi Nouira were present at the conference given on this occasion.
The end of the war was marked by great dispersal of personnel mainly to Algeria. IBLA’s activities were divided into two. The study centre moved to La Manouba, in the outskirts of Tunis, in 1948 and then to Rome in 1964 where it became the PontificioIstituto di Studi Arabi e d’Islamistica (PISAI).