Tunisia: Secularism Dominates Blogosphere


By Iheb Ettounsi

For Tunisian bloggers, secularism and the question of identity remain hot-button issues since the revolution. While treated as a natural right by some, secularism is a bane to others, who claim that more “imminent” problems should top the country’s agenda.

Blogger Sidi Tata wondered: “Am I an unbeliever in your religion, rejecter of your ideas, habits, traditions and heritage??? Ok, let it be so. However, I have a big question for you: am I not a human being like you? Am I not a citizen in a homeland that includes me and you?”

“Then I have the right to have a personality, independent and free opinion and thought. I have the right to exercise my humanity and have self-realisation in my own way with freedom and independence,” he wrote. “I live within the law of nature, which gives me my full right to life… I’m secular then I’m natural.”

In his turn, Wighit Nadhar blamed “some opportunistic people installing themselves as guardians and spokespersons for the will of the people” and “discussing imaginary problems”.

“With their demagogy, they want to impose secularism as a crucial issue, passionately defending an illusion that would only distract people away from their priorities rather than make them benefit from freedom and actively and effectively take part in examining and solving the real problems that are related to the development and prosperity of our country,” he wrote. “Those people prefer to continue to ignore essential things, dedicating their energies to cast doubts over the identity of this country by creating confusion that would cause division.”

Reflecting on the significance of the Tunisian constituent assembly elections, set to take place July 24th, Bent El Henchir argued that women would be the “pivot” of the upcoming electoral battle.

“Women should be cautious of fallacies, flirtation in politics and manipulation of feelings, and they should break the stereotype image that poet Ahmed Shawki depicted of them when he said: ‘beauties are deceived by compliments’. They should also break their subordination to males’ choices and look for a programme that creates a balance between their dimensions because they are half of the society,” she wrote.

Meanwhile, some bloggers called for solidifying political transformations, while questioning how real those changes were.

“All these developments, such as the dissolution of political police and the Constitutional Democratic Rally, were good,” wrote A Tunisian girl. “However, I now no longer understand anything. Although I heard that the political police has been dissolved, when I was about to enter a hotel in the capital, I saw the same police agents, who used to monitor the headquarters of opposition parties and the movements of activists before January 14th, doing the same role.”

Blogger Neji Khachnaoui wrote: “This is the first dictatorship that we’ve symbolically killed, but we have to continue to get rid of it on the ground and uproot its rotten roots from our soil that has been nurtured with our sweat and ideas. The second dictatorship came from the first, using the methods of its master. It’s the dictatorship of capital; dictatorship of looting wealth and exploiting workers’ toil.”

“Ben Ali has left this dictatorship strangling the Tunisian people, looting their wealth, draining their energy and burying their dreams and ambitions,” he added.


The Magharebia web site is sponsored by the United States Africa Command, the military command responsible for supporting and enhancing US efforts to promote stability, co-operation and prosperity in the region.

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