Updated Dec. 7, 2015
Earlier this month, Tunisia's newly elected parliament cobbled together a coalition government led by a secular party that included its Islamist rivals, who had been democratically ousted from power. The new government, coming on the heels of a historic presidential election, a new constitution and the first democratic elections to be held during the Arab Spring, marks an astonishing democratic culmination in the birthplace of the movement. It has also proven hard to replicate.
Trying to predict the rouble’s path is a fool’s charter but it’s fairly safe to say it won’t return to a level that will take pressure off the Russian economy. It has opened 2 percent higher versus the dollar in Moscow this morning, mirroring a rise in oil from $60 a barrel.
The Tunisian Foreign Minister, Rafik Abdesslem, visited Gaza last week to give a speech. Abdesslem, who spent many years in exile studying international relations at the University of Westminster in London, is an intellectual with little adult experience of the rougher side of the Middle East.
Tunisian human rights activist Amira Yahyaoui recalls how, at the age of 17, she narrowly missed being shoved under a subway train. This is just one example of the threats and pressures her family faced for their opposition to the country’s then president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, who was ousted last year in a popular uprising.
We visited Tunisia last week, during a scorching heat wave. The women we met were wearing sleeveless summer dresses, but a couple of them said that when they go out, their neighbors now tell them off for wearing revealing clothes. With the religious Nahda party now in power, uncovered women worry that their daughters won’t be able to wear bikinis and wonder which countries their daughters can move to if things get worse.
In early 2011 Tunisians hung a handwritten banner over the main street of the market town of Tataouine reading: “Welcome to our Libyan brothers”.