Call Me Stormy

Finding righteous currents in turbulent times

Tunisia: After the Revolution

Tunisia, birthplace of the Arab Spring, still finds itself teetering and torn apart by violence one year after the revolution. In the wake of the coup that deposed the government of Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, unemployment has climbed 5 percent to reach a staggering 18 percent, and the nation’s GDP, or gross domestic product, has shrunk nearly 2 percent. Foreign investors largely remain on the sidelines, skittish about lending a hand, or any money, to the fragile state.

Tunisia is due south of Italy, along the Mediterranean Sea, sandwiched between Algeria and Libya.

Meanwhile, the new coalition government led by the Ennahda ruling party has faced growing dissension, coming from both the left and right flanks. The Islamist religious right has chafed at the new government’s refusal to incorporate Sharia Laws as the foundation for Tunisia’s new constitution and also has widely rioted against the sales of alcohol.

By the same token, students and urban liberals have been disappointed because the freer society they envisioned has not materialized. Last fall, the Nessma TV station broadcast Persepolis, nominated for an Academy Award for best animated feature in 2007. After a case brought against Nessma by 144 attorneys, the government fined the station the equivalent of $1,500 on the grounds that the picture blasphemes religion.

Independent journalist Bill Code, formerly with SBS World News Australia, has spent considerable time in Tunisia, observing the changes, the conflicts and the chaos on the ground. Visit his website at http://inkybinary.wordpress.com/ to read his first-hand observations. Here’s his latest broadcast report, being distributed out of the United Kingdom by Journeyman Pictures.

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