Two years after the uprising, Tunisia is at crucial crossroads

December 22, 2012

2012 is the year Tunisia, the cradle of the modern Arab uprisings and the promise of much-anticipated positive changes, devolved into political and social chaos.

When the country held elections to choose the Constituent Assembly, the progress towards democracy was launched among promises of a democratic, freer and prosperous future.

However, the landslide victory by Al Nahda, the moderate Islamist party, alarmed the secular and leftist parties that have been for decades part of the political landscape despite their limited influence.

Despite initial assurances by Al Nahda about its modern political platform, the liberals have never really accepted the new reality and have been closely monitoring the Islamists’ decisions and intentions, especially after the government was formed.

The media was initially used as the arena for the battle between Al Nahda and the radical left and liberals worried about the seemingly inexorable growth of radical religious groups, particularly the Salafists.

In April, the first violent confrontation between the two groups occurred, plunging Tunisians into a deplorable state of frustration about the shattering of their dreams.

“We are eons from the wide smiles of October when voters cast their ballots with unprecedented enthusiasm,” Adam Sellami, a banker, said.

“Today, we have no democracy. We have no trust in any political group. They have stifled our dreams,” he said.

The bitter standoff continued in the media, on the social networks and in several towns.

“We have the legitimacy of the ballot boxes,” Nejib Mrad, an MP for Al Nahda, said.

“The people have elected us and gave us the right to represent them. The ballot box is the decider, not the street or the media,” he said.

However, Chedly Fareh, a unionist, said that Tunisia had always been a moderate country with “no room for extremism.”

“We will resist all negative temptations to ensure that Tunisia remains a great country for the present and future generations,” he said.

On December 6, Chedly had to be taken to a clinic in Tunis. He was beaten up severely when unionists clashed with groups claiming to protect the revolution.

In the latest episode for the struggle for power, the federation of trade unions said that it would call for a general strike.

“We are now gravely concerned about what is happening to our country. We are worried that violence prevails in Tunisia and turns into something normal and a new culture,” Hayat Saib, a journalist, said.




About the author

Born August 3, 1960 in Monastir, Tunisia
Media career:
  • ABC News (Tunisia)
  • Bahrain Tribune
  • Gulf News
  • Bahrain Television News
Teaching career:
  • Monastir (Tunisia)
  • University of Bahrain
  • MA  Mass Communications, University of Leicester
  • BA  in English & US literature and studies, University of Tunis

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