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Hélé Béji, a prominent woman writer from an old notable family in Tunis, was outraged by an incident in early January when a small crowd of religious extremists at the airport in Tunis to greet a visiting Hamas leader chanted “Death to the Jews.” She published this cry of the heart in Le Monde on January 19, and kindly consented for it to be translated and appear at Informed Comment in English. Tunisians do not betray the ideals of your revolution! by Hélé Béji, writer. Tunisians, you rose up against tyranny and injustice with true hearts: you were righteousness. You have illumined the world of the flame of your dignity: you were humanity.
The March 7th events at the University of Mannouba in Tunis drew my attention this week: could this be a wake-up call? A salafi who is not a student at the university took down the Tunisian flag from the rooftop of the university and replaced it with the salafi black flag – inscribed in Arabic with la ilaha illa Allah Muhammad rasul Allah (“There is no God but God and Muhammad is His prophet”). We Tunisians say this phrase many times a day; when we are surprised for instance, we say la ilaha illa Allah (there is no God but God) or when we forget something. But in this incident, a salafi took down the Tunisian flag and by doing so he challenged the nation. How the words on the flag affect us is a personal matter – but dishonoring the flag is a political matter – it is illegal and it offended most Tunisians not to say all.
In the second such incident this month, Tunisia's hardline Salafis decided to scale buildings in order to, well, put up a flag. Seeing the cheers of joy and victory, few things seem to entertain them more, it appears. This latest incident occurred last week, on March 25. Half a dozen men climbed the clock tower at the entrance of Avenue Bourguiba in Tunis -- which was the flashpoint of the capital's revolutionary protests last year -- to hang, askew, a flag too small to be really visible from afar on the copper-colored ‘Big Ben.' The Tunisian blogosphere quipped, for that matter, that the Salafis were attempting to turn the clock back a few centuries. In case you were wondering (as I was), that flag, black with white inscriptions (or vice-versa), is widely referred to as the "Caliphate" flag.
Between You and Me This past Saturday, Tunisia’s 111 registered political parties were given the go ahead to begin their campaigns. With just under three weeks until election day, Tunisians have a lot of work to do.
on : Wednesday, 11 Apr, 2012 Hearts and Minds A year after the Tunisian revolution has taken place, the country has demonstrated that it was capable of transitioning from a 23 year dictatorship to a participatory democracy. This success however, has been overshadowed by the country’s on-going economic struggles as was demonstrated in last week’s debate on Tunisia’s progress since the revolution hosted by the AfDB. Clashes erupt in Tunis during Martyr day between police and thousands of people hostile to the government This past week the African Development Bank held in Tunis a debate amongst leading Tunisian entrepreneurs, government officials and other important stakeholders over the progress and challenges that Tunisia faces a year after the revolution took place.
Between You and Me With 41.5 percent of the constituent assembly, Tunisia’s moderate Islamist party will have a strong voice in the writing of the constitution. An enthusiastic Tunisian casts his vote As predicted, the moderate Islamist party, Ennahda, has won more votes than any other political party competing for seats in the Tunisian constituent assembly election. Yet, the 90 seats it now occupies, which account for 41.5 percent of the assembly, still suggest that a majority of Tunisian voters support the separation between mosque and state.
The Disintegrating Fabric of Tunisian Politics: The Niqab Ban and Tunisian Flag Desecration at Manouba UniversityIt’s difficult to say how it started. For clarity’s sake, let’s begin on 28 November 2011. Enraged at the university’s enforcement of the ban, a group of Salafists took the Dean of the College of Letters at Manouba University hostage. (Students at Manouba, and at universities around the country, are prohibited by presidential decree from wearing the while in class). 
Between You and Me As Tunisia’s newly elected constituent assembly representatives debate the future of their country, discontented individuals and civil society groups demonstrate outside the National Assembly building to ensure that their demands will not be forgotten. Demonstrators shout slogans on Habib Bourguiba Avenue in Tunis as they take part in a protest for a secular state On Monday, 21 November, after nearly a month of deliberations, leaders from the first, second and fourth largest political parties—Ennahda, the Congress for the Republic (CPR) and Ettakatol, respectively—announced their intention to work together as a coalition in Tunisia’s newly elected 217-member National Constituent Assembly (NCA). As a block, these three political parties hold a significant majority in the assembly—139 seats in total— granting them the support they will need to make critical decisions concerning Tunisia’s future as the assembly drafts a new constitution and forms a transitional government.
Nearly four months after Tunisia elected a corps of delegates to write the country’s new constitution, these representatives are no closer to reaching agreement on one of the most fundamental tenets of such a document: what form of government will define Tunisia’s future? The process of drafting the new Tunisian constitution will begin on February 14, 2012. The committee of the Constituent Assembly charged with drafting the constitution is chaired by the head of the Constituent Assembly itself, Mustapha Ben Jaafar of the center-left Ettakatol party. Habib Khedr, a member of the moderate Islamist party Ennahda, has been elected as the general rapporteur, a position whose duties nearly make it the administrative equal of the committee chair. Since before the elections, lines have been drawn in the sand by the various political parties. Ennahda’ representatives have made its support of a parliamentary system clear.
on : Thursday, 24 May, 2012 Hearts and Minds Tunisia has been considered the poster child of the Arab Spring for its ability to manage its transition to democracy in a comparatively peaceful manner.
One year ago, on Dec. 17, a humble, cowed fruit-seller in a small, provincial city in Tunisia doused himself in paint thinner and set himself alight . The flames that eventually took his life had an effect he could not have foreseen, even in his wildest dreams: Less than a month later, his country's long-ruling tyrant had fled for his life and a democratic revolution would soon sweep across the Middle East. His death made him famous, an icon whose face adorns postage stamps and whose name -- Mohamed Bouazizi -- now stands for the hopes of a generation. As is so often the case with political martyrs, Bouazizi means strikingly different things to different people.
The dome shaped room was a sea of red and white. It smelled of amber musk and sea. The attendees were mostly well over the age of forty, and the buzz of excitement was impossible to miss. You would think you were attending a Michael Jackson concert. What’s the occasion, you ask?
Ennahda’s economic policies in Tunisia The state of Tunisia’s economy remains weak. Rather than improving the living standards of Tunisians, the revolution has largely affected their purchasing power.
Belhassen Trabelsi is not your typical immigrant seeking refugee status in Canada. For starters, he arrived in Canada on a private jet. His family owned a $2.5 million mansion in Montreal -- at least until the Canadian government confiscated it. And unlike many people escaping their home countries, Trabelsi is fleeing a democratically elected government, one that came to power after the Tunisian people revolted against the rule of Trabelsi's brother-in-law, longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Trabelsi -- a balding, baby-faced 49-year-old with sunken eyes and a large double chin -- is the brother of Leila Trabelsi, Ben Ali's wife. According to U.S.
As the barouche moved uphill through the Parc du Belvédère in the crisp light of a mid-October 1951 morning, I looked at the palm trees and inquired of my mother whether I was in a "Babar" story. I had arrived with her the night before after a very rough crossing from Marseille had delayed our docking in Tunis by many hours. I had just spent my first night in Tunisia, which was then a French protectorate, in a hotel in the centre of town, trying to come to terms with unfamiliar surroundings and languages I did not speak, French and Arabic.