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

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs