“Tunisians should not worry for new ideas”
In an editorial for Tunisia Live, Tam Hussein discussed the challenge to freedom of speech in a time of transitional democracy for Tunisia that represents Yusuf al-Qaradawi and the Persepolis cases. Hussein called on Tunisian to “not worry for new ideas” and reminded them that “Tunisians were at the forefront of wrestling with the position of women in the Arab world” which led to the adoption of the Personal Status Code adopted in 1956 which guarantees equal rights between men and women. Hussein questioned the critics of a movie depicting God (Persepolis) when satellites in the Middle East broadcast movies that explicitly show God. On the visit of conservative cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi in Tunisia, Hussein believed that his ideas and preaching should be engaged and challenged. Hussein concluded “Persepolis and El-Qardawi then, are absolutely essential for the democratic process and proliferation of personal freedom. Tunisians shouldn’t be afraid or worried but rather engaged in the discourse.”
On May 1st, thousands of Tunisians demonstrated (French) on Boughiba avenue in Tunis, responding to the call of the syndicates and celebrating International Workers’ Day. The leading union of the demonstration, Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT), called for “unity” and “reconciliation” of the country. UGTT is very critical of the government, blaming it for few economic achievements and the rise of prices. Other unions joined the gathering, such as the Tunisian Workers Union (UTT). The head of the UTT’s Women’s Workers Committee, Basma Jawachi, urged workers “to defend the rights of working women.” Members of the Ennahda party also took part in the demonstrations and expressed their support of the Tunisian government.
In an interview with the activist and founder of Weakileaks, Julian Assange, the President of Tunisia Moncef Marzzoki asserted that Islamist movements in Tunisia and Egypt should not be a source of fear for democratic transition as they are now part of the democratic system.
Today, a Tunisian court sentenced two policemen to 20 years in jail for killing a protester at the beginning of the uprising against the authoritarian regime of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in December 2010. The ruling Ennahda party has come under increasing public pressure to bring speedy justice to the families of those killed in the uprising.