Sunday, March 3, 2013

Political Infighting in Tunisia and the Power of the Harlem Shake

            Tunisia’s revolution could be said to have begun according to the age old adage of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, with both secular and religious groups banning together to overthrow dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. With Ben Ali now gone, the groups have now turned against each other and a struggle for power has ensued. Within the last month, three major events have occurred in Tunisia showing that compromise and stability within the government is far from the horizon.
           Political violence between secular and religious parties reached its tipping point in February with the assassination of opposition party leader Shokri Belaid, an outspoken critic of the current religious ruling coalition (Tunisia: Murder Most Foul). During protests in Siliana last November over unemployment and the lack of economic progress, finger-pointing between Belaid and the government ensued as the Tunisia Interior Minister, Ali Laarayedh accused Belaid of inciting the protesters against police, and as Belaid accused the interior ministry of tyranny (Tunisia: Murder Most Foul).  (Image:

            The political violence has transferred into political discord in the government. On the day of Belaid’s assassination, Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali of the ruling Ennahda party, proposed an end to the current political stand-off in parliament through the creation of a technocratic government (Tunisa Nabs Suspects in Politicans Murder). While the opposition parties approved of Jebali’s plan, citing that an independent government would be less susceptible to political corruption, Jebali’s own Ennahda party rejected the plan due to its belief that a technocratic government would lack accountability (Tunisia at a Crossroads?). This inability to create a government led to the resignation on Hamadi Jebal on Februrary 19th, leaving Tunisia without a functioning government (Tunisia at a Crossraods?). (Image:
            Political tensions in Tunisia are still on the rise. Within this last week, reports have surfaced of protesters pelting Ennahda’s leader Rached Ghannouchi’s car with stones as he visited Northern Tunisia (Anger Strikes). Students, still frustrated with high unemployment rates and fearful that the Islamic government will impose Taliban-style rule, have turned to dance in protest, performing the banned “Harlem Shake” in front of the Ministry of Education building (Tunisian Students stage Harlem Shake Protest).
           The excitement that began the revolution has deteriorated into a culture of political violence, ineffective government, and civil unrest due to the stagnant economy. Those countries that once looked to Tunisia as inspiration for their own revolutions must now analyze  Tunisia’s success cautiously, and learn that the road to democracy does not come without its challenges. (Direct diffusion vs. Indirect diffusion).
            Tunisia is now without an effective government and must have a draft of a constitution before the elections in 6 months. In order to diffuse some of the major protests, it must put forward a solution to the economic crises. However here is where Tunisia faces a conundrum. In order for Tunisia to create a stable government, it must quell the people with economic reforms, but in order to create economic reforms, Tunisia must have a stable government. The only chance for Tunisia survival is if both parties shy away from their radical positions and meet in the middle, if they do not, struggle will continue to ensue and the economy will only grow worse.

Works Cited:

"Anger Strikes: Tunisia's Ennahda Leader Pelted with Stones." Anger Strikes: Tunisia's Ennahda Leader Pelted with Stones. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2013. <>

"Tunisia at a Crossroads?" Al Jazeera- Inside Story. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2013. <>

"Tunisia: Murder Most Foul." Al Jazeera - Features. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2013. <>

"Tunisia Nabs Suspects in Politician's Murder." Al Jazeera - Africa. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2013. <>

"Tunisian Students Stage Harlem Shake Protest." N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2013. <>


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