(In the Tunis Grand Synagogue, October 26, 2011. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi)

Minority Jews and Christians are putting their faith in Tunisia’s nascent democracy to ensure its new Islamist-led leadership respects their rights in this traditionally secular state.

Religious minorities in the Arab world have mostly lost out when dictators are toppled and radical Islamists exploit the power vacuum to attack non-Muslims. The targeting of Christians in Iraq and Egypt constitutes a frightening example.

Tunisia, birthplace of the first Arab Spring uprising, stands as a cautious exception. Minorities are staying here and hoping for the best.

“The Tunisian people, including the Jews, have understood that democracy is the best solution for everybody,” said Khelifa Attoun, a Tunis businessman who is vice-president of the local Jewish community.

“The democratic spirit is there,” said the Jordanian-born Roman Catholic Archbishop of Tunis, Maroun Lahham.