News / Middle East

Tunisians Question Future After Politician's Death

Tunisia Struggles With Religious Divisionsi
X
February 11, 2013 7:05 PM
The shooting death of opposition politician Chokri Belaid has brought to a head simmering tensions in Tunisia and deep political and religious divisions. As Lisa Bryant reports for VOA from Tunis, this North Africa country, once heralded as a model for Arab democracy, is struggling for a way forward.
Lisa Bryant
The shooting death of opposition politician Chokri Belaid has brought to a head simmering tensions in Tunisia and deep political and religious divisions. The North Africa country, once heralded as a model for Arab democracy, is struggling for a way forward.

A slain politician.  An outpouring of rage and grief.  Thousands of Tunisians attended Friday's funeral for opposition politician Chokri Belaid.  Many blamed the ruling Islamist Ennahda party for his death.

Mourad Habaid showed up with a Tunisian flag wrapped around his shoulders. Habaid says many Tunisians feel that their 2011 revolution has been derailed.  He does not know where his country is going.

Tunis University professor Hamadi Redissi says people are fed up with Ennahda for many reasons.  The once popular party has failed to deliver. "Ennahda has no more credentials.  Ennahda has lost its moral values.  Ennahda did not improve economics.  Did not make what it promised to people. So politically Ennahda is very weak today," he said.

Basic public services have deteriorated. Insecurity has skyrocketed - including attacks by hardline Islamists against secular politicians and artists.

Two years after uniting to throw off a dictatorship, Tunisians are divided on the way forward.  Some, like taxi Fuad Kedimi, are nostalgic for the past. Kedimi says people lived well under the old regime.  There was security and lots of tourism and work.  Life was good.

Ennahda and its supporters say they are being unfairly blamed for Belaid's death - and for Tunisia's post-revolutionary problems.  Some claim outside forces want to destroy Tunisia's revolution.

English teacher Fatah Ousleti, who joined a pro-Ennahda rally in Tunis on Saturday, defends the party. "We think Ennahda is good.  It worked a lot.  It went through difficulties and hardships all along its life.  It went to prison.  It went abroad.  They were deprived of all their rights.  And now they are the ones who rule Tunisia ... it was a gesture of gratitude toward them and their struggle against tyranny and dictatorship," she said.

The divisions on Tunisia's streets are reflected in the government.  Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali threatens to resign unless a new, non-political Cabinet is named to defuse the tensions.  His own Ennahda party has rejected the proposal.

Ennahda's Meherzia Labidi, the National Assembly's deputy speaker, wants the coalition government to find a compromise.  She agrees the country's tensions are worrying. "Tunisia is divided, but not only by religion ... I think we have two extremes.  We have extremists on the side of secularists - they want Tunisia to be without religion at all ... they are a small group.  And there is another small group of religious people that wants Tunisia to be only Muslim, practicing ... but let me remind you of the huge mass of Tunisians who are in between," she said.

That, Labidi says, is where Tunisians can find common ground.

But for now, Tunisia appears adrift.  Unsure of the next step after Belaid's death.

You May Like

Mood Tense Ahead of Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

South Africa’s 'Open Mosque' Admits Everyone, Including Critics

Open Mosque founder plans to welcome gay worshipers and allow women to lead prayers More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid