Jan 14 2014

Turmoil in Tunisia: The State of the Nation That Launched The Arab Spring

Prime Minister Ali Larayedh of Tunisia’s moderate Islamic Ennahda party stepped down over the weekend in an agreement with opposition political parties following outrage and protest over the killings of two popular secular leaders, Mohammed Brahmi and Chikri Belaid in 2013. Ennahda’s perceived inaction in protecting the two political leaders and their economic policies fueled popular frustration with the government which has sparked massive protests for many months now, in the nation that brought the world the very first Arab Spring uprising.

The self-immolation of street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi on December 7th 2010 led to the ousting of Tunisian dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. The events reverberated throughout the region and spawned the 2011 Arab Spring in countries like Egypt, Libya, Syria, Bahrain, and more. Tunisia was seen as having the most promising futures of those nations.

Now, Mehdi Jommaa has been installed as Tunisia’s caretaker Prime minister and will attempt to make peace between secular, moderate Islamic, and Fundamentalist factions. Meanwhile, protests have continued. On Saturday, fifty people were arrested in the suburbs of Tunis and an 18 year old was killed on the border with Algeria during a conflict with a customs official.

GUEST: Mark Levine, Senior columnist for Al Jazeera English, Professor of History at UC Irvine, author of Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Resistance, and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam. His forthcoming book is called Art at the Edge: Creativity and Conflict in the Middle East and Africa

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