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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid