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  5. Tunisia after the Jasmine Revolution

2012 Vol.1
Tunisia after the Jasmine Revolution

2012/01/01

2011 was a year of drastic change in the Middle East. The Jasmine Revolution, which started in Tunisia at the end of 2010 through the beginning of 2011, all of a sudden spread across the Arab world and has overturned several dictatorial regimes in just one year. The fact that an Arab summit conference was indefinitely suspended due to the absence of heads of states suggests that the effect of the turmoil on the Arab countries is substantial.
Japanese and overseas media often ask what the future of Tunisia will be and whether Turkish secularism will be a model for Tunisia. Tunisia is frequently compared with Turkey because while they have historically embraced secularism for a long time, the ruling party of both is an Islamist political party. Although both countries adopted support for secularism from the outset, in Turkey the Islamist political party has increased its power within the framework of secularism through dialogues and through the election system, whereas in Tunisia there have been repeated oppressive measures by the regime and reactions from the people. In other words, the paths taken by the Islamist parties in the two countries are different.
Without understanding the historical background of Turkey and Tunisia, it would be difficult to compare the two countries existing today. This paper summarizes and explains their common and different aspects in terms of the history of their support for secularism, the resurgence of the Islamist political party, and the relationship between the secularist system and the Islamist party. Although the subject might be difficult for the Japanese to understand, it is hoped that this paper will contribute to an understanding of the Middle East where the connection between religion and politics is an important issue.

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