Tunisia elections the country that chose "life"... by Chema Gargouri

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Here again on Sunday, this small republic of 11 million people, the keystone of North Africa, proved to itself first, and then to the whole world, that the Tunisian revolution of 2011, the first in the wave of civil uprisings that some call the “Arab Spring”, was first and foremost about affirming a life with dignity and freedom.

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Tunisia elections the country that chose "life"... by Chema Gargouri

  1. 1. Tunisia Elections: the Country that Chose “Life”… Here again on Sunday, this small republic of 11 million people, the keystone of North Africa, proved to itself first, and then to the whole world, that the Tunisian revolution of 2011, the first in the wave of civil uprisings that some call the “Arab Spring”, was first and foremost about affirming a life with dignity and freedom. While waiting for the final figures from the voting that took place October 26 to elect the first democratic parliament, preliminary results are proving that what Tunisians want above all is to enjoy a better life – find a suitable job, give their children a good education, have affordable housing, and put food on the table. Our revolution was about improving our day-to-day life, not seeking a life after death as promised by the Islamist . Over the last three years, the Islamist party Ennahda underestimated this detail about quality of “life”. Having won a plurality in the 2011 election of a provisional constituent assembly, the first free election in the country's history, the party was hungry for power after being outlawed, exiled, and imprisoned by the autocratic government of Ben Ali. But Ennahda was out of touch with the Tunisian people. They formed a government of incompetent leaders, divided the country into seculars (interpreted as non-believers) and Muslims and opened the doors of the country to terrorism. While their own day-to-day life was getting worse, Tunisians watched this parade of strange faces and stone-age individuals and Middle Eastern Imams shaking hands with Rashid Ghannouchi, head of the Ennahda party and other members of the leadership including the interim presidents. In fact, since this Islamist party and its allies took power, the Tunisian economy has registered the worst results ever: increased deficit, unemployment, hunger, poverty, and frustration, less dignity, security, and hope, especially among youth. Tunisians had enough time to realize that their own country was being governed, albeit on an interim basis, by what was originally a movement preaching for a caliphate which takes the holy Koran as its constitution and Islamic law as not only the basis for relations between man and God but also between individuals in civil society. In a short amount of time in 2011, Ennahda tried to transform from being a branch of a larger extremist Islamist movement to a moderate Islamic party that every western country dreamt of finding. They were advised to change their “message”, shave their beards, improve their dress...they spoke English and French but failed to speak to the people who voted for them in 2011. More and more the gap between Ennahda and the “Chaab” (regular people) widened, mainly in the underserved areas, where citizens are no more able to access their basic rights. They felt betrayed by an Islamist Party that they trusted during the 2011’s elections. Thus, last Sunday, Tunisians expressed themselves and surprised the world again by insisting that Tunisia is on the road to democracy created by Tunisia for Tunisia, a country that is Arab and Muslim and so much more. We are a people with 5,000 years of history who above all affirm life, not life after death. Chema Gargouri, Tunisia

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