By Lutfi Zaitoun
It had never occurred to the young Muhammad Bouazizi, a native and resident of Sidi Bouzid, that his decision, made in a sudden moment of despair, and after he had been attacked by a municipal employee, to pour gasoline on himself and set himself alight in a dilapidated Tunisian area plagued by drought would light the flames of popular anger in such a manner that - were such indignation to spread - it could pose a threat to all major Tunisian cities and cause radical changes in the political structure of the country. The people of Tunisia, this small country in the Maghreb that stretches along the Mediterranean coast, have been assisted neither by history nor geography, and were provided with no terrain which might protect them from the havoc caused by the state, or by which they might find protection as they repel the state when it transgresses in its unjust treatment of its subjects. The people of this country have now begun to take to the streets, after long periods of silent patience and ostensible calm, as if they were an inanimate object, like a single mechanism, in order defiantly to face the state and alter the balance of power in their favour.
By Esam Al-Amin
In early 1994 a small Islamic think tank affiliated with the University of South Florida (USF) planned an academic forum to host Rachid Ghannouchi, the leader of the main opposition party in Tunisia, Ennahda. The objective of this annual event was to give Western academics and intellectuals a rare opportunity to engage an Islamically-oriented intellectual or political leader at a time when the political discourse was dominated by Samuel Huntington's much hyped clash of civilizations thesis. Shortly after the public announcement of the event, pro-Israeli groups and advocates led by Martin Kramer, Daniel Pipes, Steven Emerson, the head of the local B'nai B'rith, and a small-time journalist for the local right-wing newspaper began a coordinated campaign to discredit the event and scare the university.
By Afro-Middle East Centre
During the four years following former president Ben Ali’s ouster in January 2011, Tunisians have experienced tumultuous changes: the economy has stagnated, security has worsened, and increased freedoms have wrought a resurgence in public expressions of religiosity. On the political scene, four governments have been formed, two politicians have been assassinated, and a new constitution has been adopted in its fourth draft.
By AlJazeera Centre for Studies
A recent document titled the ‘citizenship initiative’ has raised a great deal of controversy in the Tunisian political arena. Immediately after the committee tasked with preparing the draft electoral law took its vote, Yadh Ben Achour, the president of the Higher Political Reform Commission, announced that his commission would begin discussing how to make the document binding on the Constituent Assembly (parliament) and on candidates who will be standing for the elections scheduled for next July.
In the first round of discussions over the document, the drafting of which largely took place outside of the parliament, several members from the Islamist Nahda Movement and the pro-republican Congress for the Republic raised concerns relating to the legality of obliging the Constituent Assembly to ratify a document passed by an unelected body. Despite the flexibility shown by the Nahda representatives who supported the idea of adopting the ‘initiative’ as a ‘republican contract’ or ‘democratic oath’ that would have a moral but non-binding character, the Congress for the Republic stuck to its previous position: that the commission was not in a position to impose any obligations that could limit the freedom of the next Constituent Assembly.