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‘Many things still need to be done’: Tunisia, seven years later

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Interview. We spoke with the Tunisian scholar Habib Kazdaghli about social discontent and jihad. Fresh protests are refocusing attention on the failed promises of the Arab Spring.

written by Stefano Mauro

Topic Middle East and North Africa

Also filed under interview

January 13, 2018

“Seven years after the Jasmine Revolution, the country has entered a new era of freedoms, political, intellectual and cultural, but serious economic reforms are necessary to fight the causes of the growing social tensions, such as those that have erupted again in recent days.”

These are the words of Habib Kazdaghli, Dean of the Faculty of Letters, Arts, and Humanities at the University of Manouba (Tunis), author of several studies on the contemporary history of Tunisia, the communist movements in the Maghreb and the history of ethnic minorities in the country. Kazdaghli is also a living symbol for the struggle for women’s rights and the resistance against the advancement of Wahhabi ideology in universities. His efforts led to him receiving death threats from radical groups.

Seven years after the revolution that ousted the dictator Ben Ali, where does the Tunisian political transition find itself?

After the ouster of Ben Ali, the country has entered a new stage of its democratic history, which is still ongoing today, on the seventh anniversary of the events. We have to remember that other countries (Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, Libya, etc.) have had similar waves of protests, but only Tunisia, with its critical approach, continues to celebrate its revolution and its democratic transition. As Gramsci wrote, “the crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born.” If we perform a quick assessment, however, a lot has been accomplished: freedom of expression, elections, a Constitution, a democratically elected government and president of the republic, success in the fight against........

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