Portrait of Rachid al-Ghannouchi

by Linda G. Jones
published in MER153

Late last September, in the sweltering, heavily guarded State Security Court in Tunis, all eyes were fixed on Shaikh Rachid al-Ghannouchi as he concluded his impassioned defense:

If God wishes me to become the martyr of the mosques, then let it be so. But I tell you that my death will not be in vain, and that from my blood, Islamic flowers will grow.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

Tunisia's Uncertain Future

by Fred Halliday
published in MER163

The first months after Habib Bourguiba’s overthrow in November 1987 witnessed an ambiguous honeymoon between the new regime and the Islamists. Bourguiba himself was under a form of house arrest in Monastir, his native town. Squares named after his birthday, August 3, 1903, were renamed November 7, the day of the coup. Some of his statues were pulled down, but many streets were still named after him and his grand mausoleum and mosque were well tended in Monastir. Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the coupmaker who had worked as minister of interior and prime minister under Bourguiba, presented himself as a man of “renewal” and called for political pluralism and respect for human rights. He opened a dialogue with the opposition forces, socialist and Islamist.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

State and Gender in the Maghrib

by Mounira Charrad
published in MER163

Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco constitute a geocultural entity. They all went through a period of French colonization and they became independent during roughly the same period in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Despite the similarities, though, the three countries engaged in markedly different policies in regard to family law and women’s rights from the time of national independence to the mid-1980s. Tunisia adopted the most far-reaching changes whereas Morocco remained most faithful to the prevailing Islamic legislation and Algeria followed an ambivalent course.

North Africa Faces the 1990s

by Joe Stork
published in MER163

The startling changes that have transformed the political landscape of Eastern Europe in 1989 may have no equivalent in the Middle East exactly, but that region has seen some remarkable developments nonetheless. The Arab versions of perestroika, or restructuring, while less profound in comparison with those of Czechoslovakia or Poland, reflect certain realignments of political forces. No regimes have toppled -- yet. But from Palestine and Jordan in the Arab east (the Mashriq) to Algeria in the west (the Maghrib), a phenomenon of intifada, or uprising, is challenging the static politics of repression that have prevailed for many years.

The People Want

by Elliott Colla
published in MER263

Many of the slogans of the Egyptian revolution have been poetry, and as compositions with rhyme, meter and purpose, they resonate with very old conceptions of lyrical form. But slogans are not literary texts whose meanings can be reduced to a purely semantic level. Most often, they are part of a performance -- embodied actions taking place in particular situations. This fact opens up avenues for thinking about literary aesthetics and political practice, and it shows the relevance of cultural analysis for the study of revolution. 

Beyond Ghannouchi

Islamism and Social Change in Tunisia

by Rikke Hostrup Haugbølle , Francesco Cavatorta
published in MER262

On October 23, 2011, for the first time since independence in 1956, Tunisians were called to the polls in free and transparent elections. They were to choose 217 members of a Constituent Assembly that for a year would play a double role: drafting a new constitution and governing the country.

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.

A Year After Tahrir

by Chris Toensing | published January 30, 2012

The Clandestine Central Mediterranean Passage

by Naor Ben-Yehoyada
published in MER261

About 78 nautical miles separate the Tunisian town of al-Huwariyya at the head of the Cap Bon peninsula from Capo Feto at the southwestern tip of Sicily. An Italy-bound voyage between the two points, on the straight line headed roughly northeast-east, takes about 13 hours at an average speed of six knots under sail. A speedboat moving at 30-45 knots would traverse the same distance in about two hours.

Tunisia Moves to the Next Stage

by Issandr El Amrani , Ursula Lindsey | published November 8, 2011

Tunisia was the first Arab country to have a pro-democracy uprising in the winter of 2010-2011, and now it is the first to have held an election. Tunisians took to the polls on October 23 to choose a constituent assembly that will be tasked with drafting the country’s first democratic constitution and appointing a new transitional government. The elections were judged free and fair by a record number of domestic and foreign observers, testimony to the seriousness with which the interim government approached the poll. In the eyes of many observers, Tunisia is lighting the way forward where others -- notably Egypt -- are faltering.

"Images from Elsewhere"

An Interview with Serge Adda

by Miriam Rosen
published in MER180

“You chase colonialism out the door, it comes back through the sky,” observed the Algerian Press Service several years ago, alluding to the phenomenon of satellite broadcasting that has literally brought European television into the living rooms of North Africa. [1] More than 95 percent of urban households in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco have televisions, and more than 30 percent have video decks. Parabolic antennas are sprouting like inverted mushrooms on rooftops around the southern Mediterranean (estimates for Algeria alone range between 1.3 and 2.2 million households, or 8 to 17 million viewers). [2]

Please Subscribe to access the full contents of this article.