Posts Tagged ‘Tunisia’

September 14th, 2012

Death in the Middle East: What happens next?

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On the 11th anniversary of the September 11, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt and U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya were attacked amidst protests over a trailer for a purported film entitled Innocence of Muslims.

June 19th, 2012

Tunisian modernities

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Over at the University of Notre Dame’s Contending Modernities blog, Michael Driessen takes lessons from the secular-Islamist negotiation happening in Tunisia.

June 15th, 2012

“Twin tolerations” today: An interview with Alfred Stepan

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Alfred Stepan is Wallace S. Sayre Professor of Government at Columbia University and founder and director of the Center for the Study of Democracy, Toleration, and Religion. He has written extensively on democratic transitions, military regimes, and the relationship between religion and democracy in countries throughout the world. His theory of the “twin tolerations,” which argues that healthy democracies require religious leaders to grant authority to elected officials, and that state authorities must not only guarantee freedom of private religious worship but allow democratic participation in civil and political society, has influenced political theorists, heads of state, and grassroots activists.

May 14th, 2012

Tunisian Jews and the Arab Spring

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In a recent article, Lin Noueihed and Terek Amara discuss the racism and fear of  harassment Tunisian Jews have experienced since the overthrow of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

May 11th, 2012

The season of revolution

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The online journal Interface: A Forum for and about Social Movements dedicates much of its most recent issue to the “Arab Spring.”

April 30th, 2012

Nahda’s return to history

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The Tunisian uprisings of December 2010 are often depicted in negative terms, as lacking leadership, ideology, and political organization. Nahda (the Tunisian Islamist movement that, after decades of exile and repression, won 40 percent of the seats in the elections of October 2011) members are now accused of working to turn Tunisia into a “sharia state,” in which religious freedom, women’s rights, and freedom of expression would cease to exist. While the fears of individuals and groups who disagree with Islamists have to be taken seriously, discussion of current changes needs to be based on a real engagement, not on caricature.

April 12th, 2012

On the secularist-Islamist divide

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At Al Jazeera EnglishElizabeth Shakman Hurd gives an abridged history of the past half-century of Tunisian politics, and relays the Enahddan notion that the revolution in Tunisia is neither unambiguously Islamist nor secularist.

April 11th, 2012

The year of the Islamist

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David Rohde, in Reuters’ Analysis and Opinion blog, designates 2012 as the year of the Islamist and discusses the likelihood that Islamists will remain in power in Tunisia and Egypt.

December 17th, 2011

Tunisia’s election: counter-revolution or democratic transition?

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Today marks the first anniversary of the self-immolation of a young street seller in Tunisia that sparked the Arab Spring. How is Tunisia doing one year on?

According to Jean Daniel, the French commentator and founder of Novel Observateur, in his “Islamism’s New Clothes” article in the December 22, 2011 issue of The New York Review of Books, the answer is: very badly. In his view, the recent elections in Tunisia amount to a “counter-revolution.” It would appear from what he says that the elections could only count as a revolution if they had followed the script of a French model of 1905 laïcité –the most religiously “unfriendly” form of secularism of any West European democracy. Such a model, in a more extreme form, was imposed by the state in the authoritarian secularism under Habib Bourguiba and Ben Ali, who ruled Tunisia without free elections from Independence in 1956 until the Arab Spring.

Having witnessed, and written about, over fifteen efforts at democratic transitions and having visited Tunisia three times since the start of the Arab Spring, I would argue the opposite: A much more appropriate description of the political situation in Tunisia is to call it the Arab Spring’s first completed democratic transition.

April 21st, 2011

Contrasting progress on democracy in Tunisia and Egypt

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What are the chances of successful democratic transitions in Tunisia and Egypt? I have just returned from both countries where many democratic activists shared notes with me about their situation, comparing it with the more than twenty successful and failed democratic transition attempts that I have observed throughout the world and written about.

February 22nd, 2011

The power of a new political imagination

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The Tunisian revolution, as a revolution of ordinary people, inspired the demonstrations in Egypt, leading to Mubarak’s fall. It has opened the Tunisian people’s political imagination, which had been foreclosed by the elites in power, with the support of Tunisia’s European and American allies. This new narrative of change through popular revolution has expressed what was previously impossible to say openly: that a radical regime change is necessary and must lead to individual freedom (both economic and political), political representation, and government accountability. The self-immolation of Muhammad Bouazizi made manifest the economic and political plight of the Tunisian youth and the people’s distrust of a state that had humiliated them, repressed all dissent, and practiced corruption at all levels since the country became independent in 1956. Tunisians and Egyptians have expressed their desire to become citizens, rather than subjects, of their states.

February 21st, 2011

Egyptian revolution round-up

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For the eighteen days that tens of thousands of Egyptians were rallying to push strongman Hosni Mubarak ever closer to abdication, time itself seemed to pass differently than usual. Something has been happening, though nobody knows exactly where it will go.

February 17th, 2011

The science of people power: An interview with Gene Sharp

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Gene Sharp is the foremost strategist of nonviolent social change alive today. He holds a doctorate in political theory from Oxford and has had positions at Harvard University and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Books like The Politics of Nonviolent Action and Waging Nonviolent Struggle, together with numerous pamphlets and other writings, have inspired and guided popular movements around the world for decades. They have been credited, most recently, as a major influence on the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. He continues his work as Senior Scholar of the Albert Einstein Institution, which operates out of his home in East Boston.

February 16th, 2011

An historic expression of synergy and resistance

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In The NationSaba Mahmood weighs in on the factors that facilitated the historic events recently witnessed in Egypt, and the tasks that lie ahead now that Mubarak has been removed from power.

February 15th, 2011

Withdrawing consent

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For the last month, we have been witnessing, in Tunisia and Egypt, the first revolution of the twenty-first century. We are indeed fortunate to live in the presence of such a world-making event, even if we are not in the streets together with those who are making it a reality in daily life. Hastening to provide analyses of ongoing social and political alterations of such magnitude is always ill-advised, because world-historical events also alter the known modes and means of analysis, especially those crafted by pundits and academics.

Nonetheless, in an attempt to respond to the sublime sentiment of watching an entire people erupt in a collective desire for self-determination, which is, moreover, actualized in the very means of conducting and realizing this desire, I feel a personal exigency to articulate certain elementary observations on what I perceive to be the worldwide consequences of these alterations. I do so in the spirit, not of analysis, but of speculation, and with the self-conscious risk of being an amateur observer.

February 10th, 2011

A post-Islamist Middle East?

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Writing in what is quickly becoming one of the prime sources of English-language cultural and political commentary on recent events throughout the Middle East—Jadaliyya—Asef Bayat analyzes the relationship between Islamism and the revolution in Egypt. Bayat argues against the voices characterizing the revolution as Islamic in nature, finding their arguments as well as their historical comparisons with the Iranian revolution of 1979 ill-founded. There is little evidence of a strong Islamist influence on the uprising, nor can the Muslim Brotherhood be expected to emerge as dominant. Not only that, Bayat sees signs of “a deeper transformation.”

January 27th, 2011

Will the Arab revolutions spread?

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Marc Lynch responds to protests across the Arab world.