Reuters blog archive
(Photo: Shadows of protesters on the Tunisian flag, in Tunis January 15, 2011/Zohra Bensemra)
For years they were jailed or exiled. They were excluded from elections, banned from politics, and played no visible role in Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution. But in the brave new world of multi-party politics, moderate Islamists could attract more followers than their secular rivals like to admit.
And the downfall of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali's police state may leave Tunisia open to infiltration by extremists from neighboring Algeria, where war between authorities and Islamists has killed 200,000 people in the last two decades.
"The Islamist movement was the most oppressed of all the opposition movements under Ben Ali. Its followers are also much greater in number than those of the secular opposition," said Salah Jourchi, a Tunisian expert on Islamic movements. "Its effect could be large."
Secularism has been strictly enforced in Tunisia since before its independence from France in 1956. Habib Bourguiba, the independence leader and long-time president, was a nationalist who considered Islam a threat to the state. Indeed, in 1987, when Ben Ali pushed aside Bourguiba, he briefly released Islamists from jail and allowed them to run in the 1989 elections. The results surprised and worried Ben Ali.
(Photo: Tunisian protester with political demands on a banner that reads
"No to a government born of corruption" “Ben Ali is in Saudi Arabia and the government is the same (hasn’t changed)” in Arabic and "RCD, clear out!" in French. The RCD is the party of former president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. In Tunis January 18, 2011/Zohra Bensemra)
The absence of Islamist slogans from Tunisia's pro-democracy revolt punches a hole in the argument of many Arab autocrats that they are the bulwark stopping religious radicals sweeping to power.
Ousted strongman Zine el Abidine Ben Ali spent much of his 23-year rule crushing Islamist opposition groups who opposed his government's brand of strict secularism: after Sept. 11 2001, he was an enthusiastic backer of Washington's "war on terror".
from Photographers' Blog:
If it is written in a newspaper, is it true or false?
One of the most interesting parts of our job as a photo-reporter is one of the basic principles of journalism - that is telling the TRUE and REAL STORY to newspaper readers and online viewers who were not there but want to know the real story behind the headlines.
But journalism is changing. Long gone are the days when people said “It must be true, the newspaper says so.” Especially in Italy, it looks like some reporters do not tell the whole truth. They do not look for the truth nor do they investigate to try to arrive at the truth. They look for little or wrong clues. They use it to prove their story; a biased truth. Do they do this to confuse the readers and to contribute to warped thoughts? Are the journalists simply not capable of good reporting?
(Photo: The Reichstag building in Berlin, November 22, 2010/Pawel Kopczynski)
A rousing welcome in Berlin it may not be.
Pope Benedict’s invitation to address German parliament during his visit to his homeland next September 22-25 has not sat well with some members of the opposition. Volker Beck, the Green party floor leader, has protested that inviting a religious leader to address parliament, the Bundestag, is unprecedented and the wrong place to speak about religion.
Jewish leaders reacted with dismay Sunday to comments in Pope Benedict's new book that his wartime predecessor Pius was a "great, righteous" man who "saved more Jews than anyone else."
Many Jews accuse Pius, who reigned from 1939 to 1958, of having turned a blind eye to the Holocaust. The Vatican says he worked quietly behind the scenes because speaking out would have prompted Nazi reprisals against Catholics and Jews in Europe.
from Oddly Enough Blog:
Blog Guy, I'm guessing you lived through the 1960s, a decade known for political turmoil. What's the most important weapon when the people want to protest against the establishment?
Gosh, the '60s were long ago, but I'd say the best weapon is cool logic. When the whole world is watching, argue your points eloquently and factually.
(Photo: Muslim immigrants pray during Eid al-Adha celebrations in front of Athens university November 16, 2010/Yannis Behrakis)
Dozens of far-right activists and local residents threw eggs and taunted hundreds of Muslim immigrants as they gathered to pray in a central square for Eid al-Adha surrounded by a protective cordon of riot police.
Greece, which has become the main immigrant gateway to the European Union, has a growing Muslim community and tensions between locals and incomers have run high in some Athens areas such as Attiki square, the scene of Tuesday's incident.
from Oddly Enough Blog:
Okay lads, it's time we make our protest heard by those bloody politicians. They can't raise our university tuition and get away with it!
Blimey, Nigel, you don't mean... Not the plank!
Yes. You fellows know the drill. Bring me a long wooden plank and a rope. And I need some really stupid chap, stripped naked.
from UK News:
Two events highlighted the past week's Best of Britain photos: Remembrance Day and the protests that made their way inside the Conservative Party headquarters. In a simultaneous mirror of war and peace, there were the somber Remembrance Day vigils honoring those who'd given their lives in war, contrasted with the chaos of student protesters, angry at the Conservative Party's plans for higher tuition fees and cuts to education.
Also included are photos of a girl celebrating Diwali and a scientist showing a new high tech material that can manipulate visible light.