Unemployment in Tunisia

These statistics from the world bank revel how bad the unemployment was in Tunisia among students who had graduated from higher education. Unemployment was a major factor in Tunisia’s revolution.

click here to see the statistics

The Story of Mohammed Bouazizi

This article from Al-Jazeera is the most detailed article I have found regarding the life of Mohamed Bouazizi. Bouazizi is the man who set himself on fire, and thus started a revolution not only in Tunisia, but across North Africa and the Middle East. This is the first story I have found that is completely dedicated to telling his story and how he was the man behind the Arab Spring. It details his early life, as well as what caused Bouazizi to light himself on fire. The article titled, The Tragic Life of a Street Vendor, is worth reading to understand the reasoning behind Bouazizi’s actions, and understanding the beginnings of the revolution.

Tunisia: Stability and Reform in the Modern Maghreb

I recently read a book on Tunisia, called, Tunisia: Stability and Reform in the Modern Maghreb. It was extremely helpful on providing me with informaiton regarding Ennahda, or previously MTI during the Ben Ali regime. It has proved to be a difficult task to find information on Tunisia during the Ben Ali regime, but this book details the role of that Islam played in politics, and how both Bourguiba and Ben Ali exhausted their efforts in mainting that MTI and later Ennahda constituted illegal parties. This book also details Ben-Ali’s rise to power, and the changes he made to Tunisia once he became president. While some of his ojectives sound good such as women’s rights, he still ruled as an authoritarian. By the time of the revolution, Ben Ali couldn’t fix the high unemployment and food hikes. Even though Ben-Ali asserted some rights, he still imprisoned political members of oppossing groups, particuarly those of Ennahda. He also limited the freedom of the press and was guilty of mass corruption. This particular book describes what Tunisia was like under Ben-Ali and has proven to be a big help for me.

Unfortunately, I am not able to get the book, or its chapters online. But the Book is called, Tunisia: Stability and Reform in the Modern Maghreb by Christopher Alexander.

Tunisia Tests the Water of Democracy

This is a piece from the Middle East Institute. Here, author Yasmine Ryan discusses the implications of democracy for Tunisia, and states, “In many respects, Tunisia is the ideal country to give democracy a “test run” in the region. The North African country has neither the geostrategic importance of Egypt, nor the enormous petroleum riches of Libya, and a population of just ten million people.” Ryan discusses the events leading up to the revolution in Tunisia, starting with Mohammad Bouazizi, the man who lit himself on fire after his fruit and vegetable cart had been confiscated. Ryan’s paper also discusses briefly the political parties in Tunisia that were running during the election and states that there were around 111 parties running. In a previous post I had said that I believed Ennahda had won because they were the only political party (even though they were illegal under Ben Ali) that the people of Tunisia were familiar with. All of the other new parties sprung up after the revolution so people were not familiar with them. Ryan says something very similar, ” Opinion poll after opinion poll has shown that Tunisians have never heard of most of the parties and politicians. More than half of voters remain undecided. This is hardly surprising in a country where the president was the only politician to have a public profile. Tunisians have had just a few short months to learn what democracy means.” Like many other article, Ryan discusses the fears that people have about Ennahda winning the elections, particularly those of women’s rights. But Ghannouchi has said that he does not plan on diminishing the rights of women, and that his party believes in equal rights for both men and women. This article is helpful in giving a BRIEF background on the revolution and the elections that followed.

Click here to read it!

An Interview with Rachid Ghannouchi

This is an article from Foreign Policy Magazine that contains an interview with Rachid Ghannouchi, the leader of the Ennahda party in Tunisia. I found this article/interview to be really interesting because there has been a lot of talk and speculation regarding how Ennahda will govern Tunisia. But Ghannouchi does a very good job at reassuring people that Ennahda will govern as a progressive, moderate party. Ghannouchi stresses the importance of having a coalition to write the consistituion because he doesn’t want the people of Tunisia to feel that they are in another position where there is only one ruling party dominating political life. Ghannouchi seems to grasp the importance of letting everyone’s voice be heard in the construction of Tunisia’s new constitutuion. I think this goes back to the idea of an earlier article I posted about “Can the West Learn to Love the Islamists”. In that article, it stressed that Islam and democracy can go hand in hand, and thus far, Ghannouchi has done very well at advocating this, and stressing that he and all of his party member believe in equal freedoms and rights between men and women, and that jihad is not the way to spread Islam around the world – this seems to be a main concern for the Western world. Listening to Ghannouchi, it is hard to disagree with his speaking points. In fact, Foreign Policy named him one of top 100 global thinkers of our time. But rights now, Ennahda and Ghannouchi are using just words, it is when these words are put into action that I will be able to make a better decision about Ennahda as the ruling party of Tunisia.

click here to read the article!

The 6th Caliphate – Tunisia

Hamadi Jbeli, the Secretary General of Ennahda has recently declared Tunisia to be the 6th Caliphate. Fears amont the secularists in Tunisia have risen as Jbeli said, “My brothers, you are at a historic moment … in a new cycle of civilization, God willing … We are in sixth caliphate, God willing.” – As Ennahda has continued to say that it will remain a moderate party, Jbeli’s statement have led many to believe that Ennahda’s “true agenda” is beginning to show. Other Ennahda party members state the Jbeli’s comments were taken out of context, but as this article suggests, even mentioning Caliphate is dangerous because it is often associated with hard line radicals. I think that it is too soon to tell what Ennahda plans for Tunisia, and whether Sharia law is something that might be enforced upon the country. Ennahda’s leader, Rached Ghannouchi is considered to be a moderate by some, but a fundamentalist by others. It is too early to tell what Ennahda’s plans are, as with all political parties and leaders, until they begin policy formation one can not truly know their intentions are.

To read the article, click here

Protesters Take to the University in Tunisia

With the October 23rd elections over, and Ennahda taking the win, Tunisia has still been experiencing outbursts of violence. Under Ben Ali Tunisia remained a secular state, but as the Islamists are gaining leverage, clashes have ensued. This particular article demonstrates the clashes as protesters at a University outside of Tunis protest over secular and Islamist identities. As previously noted, Ennahda said that it would ensure that Tunisia still maintained women’s rights, and secular freedoms, though as time has progressed, some of the fears of the secularists are coming true as Islamists are gaining ground and beginning to have a larger impact on the Tunisian society. Tunisia has recently declared that it will continue its state of emergency (<– click link to read more about it) as violence still shakes the country. It will be interesting to see after the constitution is drafted how the secularists and Islamists form or maintain any existing relationships. It is too soon to tell how Ennahda will effect the country, but seeing as clashes over the idea of an Islamist state have followed so quickly behind the elections suggests that many are not happy with its outcomes thus far.

click here to read the article about the protestors at Manouba University.