Refusing to Forgive

Tunisia’s Maneesh M’sameh Campaign

by Laryssa Chomiak , Lana Salman
published in MER281

In 2015, Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi proposed a draft economic reconciliation law to forgive graft and other corrupt acts committed by civil servants and businessmen under the regime of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in exchange for closed-door confessions and return of ill-gotten gains. Such economic crimes were a major trigger of the 2010-2011 protests that led to the Tunisian revolution—and Essebsi’s bill provoked a powerful response, a campaign called Maneesh M’sameh (I Will Not Forgive). The campaign’s initial goal was to protect the integrity of investigations of economic crimes by the Truth and Dignity Commission (L’Instance Vérité et Dignité), created in the summer of 2014.

The Invisible Alienation of Tunisian Youth

by Benoît Challand
published in MER276

The mood in Tunisia was tense after Ramadan, a month after 38 tourists were killed in the beach resort of Sousse at the end of June. Key buildings on the capital’s main boulevard, Habib Bourguiba Avenue, including the Ministry of Interior, were surrounded with barbed wire and conspicuous police protection. Parliament had just passed a counter-terrorism law criticized by local and international human rights associations for granting extraordinary powers to security agencies.

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Nobel Nota Bene

by Stacey Philbrick Yadav | published October 20, 2015 - 10:52am

From Little League banquets to honorary doctorates, it may well be in the nature of award committees to tilt toward hyperbole. Elevating the legacy of the recipient is, among other things, an affirmation of the importance of those who can recognize importance when they see it. The committee that selects the recipient of each year’s Nobel Peace Prize unquestionably evaluates a slate of tremendously significant nominees, but even this august body fits the exaggerating profile in the language of its encomia. And with stakes higher than many, the Nobel’s fulsome praise can be faulted in recent years not simply for its overstatement, but also for its timing.

Tunisia's Rotten Compromise

by Nadia Marzouki | published July 10, 2015

Since the 2011 Arab uprisings gave way to the dreadful combination of civil war and terrorism that has spread from Syria to Libya and Yemen, analysts and political actors from both the Arab world and West have felt an acute need for at least one success story in the region. Tunisia has provided such a tale—despite suffering two lethal terror attacks on its soil so far in 2015, the second being the killing of 38 tourists at a seaside resort in Sousse on June 26.

Rebels, Reformers and Empire

Alternative Economic Programs for Egypt and Tunisia

by Karen Pfeifer
published in MER274

For 20 years leading up to the uprisings of 2010-2011, Egypt and Tunisia suffered the ill effects of neoliberal economic reform, even as the international financial institutions and most economists hailed them as beacons of progress in the Arab world. For ten years preceding the revolts, workers and civil society organizations led a burgeoning protest movement against the liberalizing and privatizing trajectories of the Mubarak and Ben Ali regimes. Then came the uprisings, which brokered the possibility of not only new political beginnings but also alternative economic programs that would put the needs of the struggling middle, working and poorer classes first and at least constrain, if not abolish, the privileges of a deposed ruling class.

Potholes in the Road to Revolution

by Michael Marcusa
published in MER272

Nearly four years later, the dusty road between Sidi Bouzid’s main thoroughfare and the humble residential quarter where Mohamed Bouazizi grew up is still blemished with the same potholes. He was not known in his hometown by that name. Though international media outlets immortalized this moniker after he set himself on fire, the first name of the young Tunisian street vendor who lit the now clichéd proverbial match was Tarek. (Full name: Tarek al-Tayeb Mohamed Bouazizi.) His friends called him Basbousa. In the popular discourse, the story of Sidi Bouzid’s December 2010 uprising is something of a fairy tale: The youth revolted, the tyrant fell and the Arab world’s first real democracy was forged in the fires of Bouazizi’s rage.

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Small Farmer Uprisings and Rural Neglect in Egypt and Tunisia

by Habib Ayeb , Ray Bush
published in MER272

“We should make it up to the peasants,” Muhsin al-Batran, erstwhile head of the economic affairs unit in Egypt’s Ministry of Agriculture, told the official daily al-Ahram two months after the toppling of Husni Mubarak in 2011. “Make it up” -- why? And what is it that needs to be made up?

Winter of Discontent

Economic Crisis in Tunisia and Morocco

by David Seddon
published in MER127

Nineteen eighty-four began in a bloody fashion in the Maghreb. Violent demonstrations erupted in the impoverished southwest and south of Tunisia at the very end of December and spread throughout the country during the first week of January. These followed the Tunisian government’s introduction of measures to remove food subsidies. Bread prices suddenly doubled.

States of Emergency

The Riots in Tunisia and Morocco

by James Paul
published in MER127

A crisis had been building in Tunisia for many months. By the end of 1983, the economy was in serious trouble, support-for the regime had been eroding and the International Monetary Fund had proposed austerity measures. Within the government, corruption and personal luxury were rampant. President-for-life Habib Bourghiba was intent on preparations for a lavish celebration of the 50th anniversary of the ruling Destourian Socialist Party, while ministers vied with each other over the succession to the 81-year-old leader.

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Gender and the Revolutions

Critique Interrupted

by Norma Claire Moruzzi
published in MER268

How is gender related to revolutions? What is the connection between “gender” and women or, for that matter, between gender and women and men? If gender is generally understood to be the social construction of sexual difference, what explains the differences in gendered identities across cultures or over time? And in thinking about gender, how can observers avoid the naturalization of the familiar, or the demonization of gender relations that seem foreign?