Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What is going on in Tunisia?

Once again, we are witnessing a turmoil in a non-western country that has many signatures of an orchestrated and calculated plan written all over it to manipulate another ignorant nation into a dark and miserable future under rule of Islamic religious leaders.

Tunisia, according to many sources, has been the most stable nation in Africa until very recently. Economically, Tunisia has been ranking number one nation in the whole continent of Africa with less percentage of people bellow poverty than US and some other western nations. Its economic indices have been much better than some European countries like, Italy and Portugal and, a big majority of people have been enjoying a high standard of living. Then, what went wrong?

Habib Boiurqiba, the first president of Tunisia, had started his presidency after establishment of a republic system and terminating the colonial relation with France. His social and economic reforms for the nation turned him into a figure which was later compared with Kamal Ataturk by many. In his reforms, he imposed limits on different aspects of Islamic traditions and nullified the "vaqf" which would lock properties and some other sources of revenue to pay for religious centers and figures. Those reforms brought fundamental changes to the way that Tunisians lived and put the nation on the path of modernization.

Even though his secular government was openly on the side of anti-communist camp which was led by United States during cold war era, he was never exempted of being criticized for suppression of opposition (mostly by Islamic rivals) by his western allies. Bourqiba once tried to provide a base for PLO in Tunisia but an air attack by Israel put an end to it and the Palestinian base was destroyed. As a result of this event, Bourqiba severed his relation with United States of America. A couple of years later Bourqiba was replaced by Zine El Abedin Ben Ali in a non-violant coup d'etat.

The most important opposition to Bourqiba came from Islamist party of An Nahad which continued its activities after him to pursuit establishment of a Islamic regime and implement sharia law over 20 years ago. Increasing power of An Nahad and Islamist group of "Al-Ittijah Al-Islami" (founded by Rashid Al-Ghanuchi in early 1980's) posed a great challenge to stability and progress of Tunis and at some point, Zine El Abedin Ben Ali was forced to ban their activities for conspiring to topple the government. As a result, the leaders of Islamic movement of Tunisia left the country and until recently, stayed in England.

The event of January 15th-16th and 17th/2011 in Tunis show amazing similarities with the events that happened in Iran during the days of February 1979. The clashes between presidential guard and the army on January 17th/2011 draws a parallel to events of February 12th/1979 in Tehran in which final battles took place between Royal Guard and armed rebels with assistance of some army personnel.

At this moment that I am writing these lines, a new interim government has been formed in Tunisia which is mostly secular but considering the background of strong activities and influence of Islamic groups, this may not last very long and we may soon witness the rising of another Islamic Republic in Tunisia. This will definitely be a serious event for countries like Morocco and Egypt which have been wrestling with their own Islamic opposition for the last three decades.

Sohrab Ferdows

January 18th/2011