News / Africa

    Rivals Battle for Tunisia's Future as Anniversary Approaches

    Henry Ridgwell
    Tunisia has just marked its one-year anniversary since its first free elections - and will soon celebrate the second anniversary of the uprising that led to the downfall of its dictatorship and triggered the so-called Arab Spring. But critics of the new government warn human rights abuses are still taking place. As a new constitution is drawn up, opposing forces in the country are fighting to determine Tunisia's future.

    Nearly two years after the overthrow of President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, opposing forces are still fighting over Tunisia's future path.

    Clashes erupted last month in the capital between police and Salafist Muslims.

    Tension between hardline Islamists and secularists has risen since last year's election. The winner - the moderate Islamist Ennahda movement - is sharing power with two non-religious parties.

    In London to receive the 2012 Chatham House Prize, Tunisia's President Moncef Marzouki said the coalition was a work in progress.

    "If this experiment fails, another cycle of violence will undoubtedly take place. But if it succeeds, it can become an example for the rest of the Arab and Muslim countries," said Marzouki.

    The co-recipient of the prize, head of the Ennahda movement Rached Ghannouchi, rejected accusations that Tunisia was moving away from democracy.

    "We are certain that democracy and Islam are in harmony and that we can be democratic without letting go of Islam," he said.  Ghannouchi added that he believes "democracy without faith can turn into a power struggle where ethics are absent and where interest groups or financial lobbies rule."

    Both leaders said fixing Tunisia's economy was vital for stability.

    This week the European Union unfroze the assets belonging to 48 people associated with the former regime - potentially releasing millions of dollars back to Tunisian public funds.

    Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui of human rights group Amnesty International says Tunisia's progress should not be forgotten.

    "They did have elections which was quite significant for the region and I think it is setting a model for the rest of the region. But yet what we see ambiguity when it comes to human rights, when it comes to women's rights. We do see now people who are in jail in Tunisia for insulting Islam. This is something we haven't had before," said Sahraoui.

    For the victims of the previous dictatorships, justice is at the core of the transition. A founder of the Tunisian Islamic Front in the 1980s, Mohamed Ali Harrath was tortured several times before fleeing in 1990. He now runs the TV station 'The Islam Channel' from London.

    "No one should get away with murder; no one should get away with their wrongdoings. We have to bring them in; they have to face justice, but… after we have justice we have to move to reconciliation," said Harrath.

    Harrath rejects what he calls Western fears of Islamization.

    "Based on using that fear they supported dictators for so long. They have seen the results in terms of security, in terms of development, in terms of immigration," he said.

    Large sections of Tunisian society are unhappy with their new government. But as the second anniversary of the revolution approaches, many analysts say the country where the Arab Spring began still holds lessons for those who followed its path.

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora