Monday, July 25, 2011
On July 25, 1957, the Constituent Assembly of Tunisia deposes Bey Muhammad VIII al-Amin, ending monarchy rule in Tunisia just a year after Muhammad declares independence from France after 75 years of being a protectorate. Habib Bourguiba, who orchestrated the removal of Muhammad, is elected president of the new republic. Bourguilba rules for three decades before recently ousted president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali takes control of Tunisia.
Now, half a year since the overthrow of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in the Jasmine Revolution, which began the so-called Arab Spring, people are complaining that democratic change has not arrived swiftly enough in Tunisia. Although 90 new political parties have sprung up since the revolution, general elections initially set for this month, have now been delayed until October. The post-Ben Ali era—essentially a police state—has seen clashes with al-Qaeda militants in the north, an attack at a Tunis cinema for showing a film deemed blasphemous, tribal violence in Metaoui, and clashes between security forces and police who were on strike in Gabes. Nonetheless, amid the challenges, more secular elements are making a plea to end the violence and chaos. Last week, hundreds of Tunisians marched two miles through the capital of Tunis to the central Pasteur Square calling for unity.