An Egyptian anti-government demonstrator

Media Evolution on the Eve of the Arab Spring

Nine months before Mohammed Bouazizi’s self-immolation, the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University hosted a symposium on Arab media. Much (and not much) has changed in the region’s media landscape since. Understanding the structural and functional characteristics at a historical juncture ahead of the uprisings can help us comprehend what precipitated (and inhibited) the ensuing changes. The[…]

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Smoldering ‘Dimocracy’

Name-calling amidst the protests The “Marxist” plot to break Tunisia’s first democratically-elected government after six decades of successive dictators will fail, said Rached Ghannouchi, head of the moderate Islamists currently in power. The Tunisian leader also expressed concern over the pattern of events unfolding in Egypt. “The revolutions of the Arab Spring are today facing[…]

Mbareka Brahmi protests the assassination of her husband Mohammed Brahmi on July 27, 2013 in Tunis, Tunisia. ©STMcNeil 2013

Double the assassination, double the revolution?

Ennahdha: Too Legit to Quit Tens of thousands of protesters over the past eight nights have occupied parks and streets across Tunisia, burned government buildings and battled police, chanting anti-Islamist slogans and demanding an immediate dissolution of the current government. The largest rally is in the capital of Tunis next to the National Constituent Assembly[…]

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Shock Doctrine Tunisia

Lost, ideological, and imported extremities As Tunisia’s post-dictatorship constitution is being forged through a democratic and messy process in a former palace of the Ottoman bey, the local Al-Qaeda affiliate might be planting explosive mines near the Algerian border—and the press is aflame with coverage of culture clashes between extremists of stringy beards and perky[…]

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Burning Jasmine for the Revolution’s Ghosts

Adel Khedhri climbed the white marble steps of the Municipal Theater in downtown Tunis covered in gasoline. Blaming an economy wracked by the legacies of neoliberal authoritarianism and post-revolutionary instability, the 27-year-old fruit vendor came to follow the fiery example of Mohamed Bouazizi. “This is a young man who sells cigarettes because of unemployment—this is[…]

Yeah…another year down the drains in Egypt!

Two years later and what? For analysts, scholars, expatriates and residents of Tunisia and Egypt alike, the passing of another year since the “first wave” of the Arab Uprisings is like the passing of yet another birthday.  While a chocolate cake, surprise party or commemorating event at the iconic Tahrir Square can soften the blow,[…]

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Will al-Thani of Jordan be the First to Go?

In the third wave of the Arab Spring monarchies are on their heels King Abdullah al-Thani’s attempts to placate Jordan is going up in flames, to the Arab Spring chant “the people want the downfall of the regime” seen from Sidi Bouzid to Deraa. After closing roads with flaming car chassis, protesters tried to storm[…]

Democracy is messy

It’s complicated in Tunisia Once again, Avenue Habib Bourguiba is full of protesters. After 56 years of single-party dictatorship, Tunisia’s first foray into representative government is looking like a bumpy ride. The ruling coalition is threatening to splinter, Salafis and secularists are fist-fighting, and the first draft of the new constitution rankled many. Oh, wait,[…]

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The Ants of God

Clashes, Curfews, and Art in Tunisia Yasmine Hamdan and Badiaa Bouhrizi’s opening songs will herald the beginning of the Carthage Alternative Music Festival today in the ritzy suburb atop Byrsa Hill in Tunis. But this showcase of Tunisia’s kaleidoscopic nationality and secular-Western cultural ties, rolls on warily, under a shadow of furious anti-secular riots sparked[…]

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Booze, Bikinis and Birth Control

Tunisia’s Permissive Islamism Tunisia has long been hailed as the model for women’s rights in the region, largely due to its progressive family code and other top-down policies adopted after gaining independence from France in 1956. Ironically enough, the transition from authoritarianism to democracy has triggered new fears about the future of Tunisian women’s rights.[…]

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Brand “Justice and Development”

Just call them a success Beneath all the din of an Islamist Trojan Horse following the despots’ downfall is simple, savvy electoral strategy: promise jobs, preach broad cultural values, and call for justice and development. While Al-Jazeera spread Mohammed Bouazizi’s revolutionary flame to Cairo and beyond, another pattern is emerging from the ashes of Ben[…]

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The Transcontinental Election Everyone is Kind of Looking At

On this Sunday, Oct. 23, Tunisians will vote for the first time, for real, ever. Ten months after their revolution which sparked the Arab Awakening, les Tunisienes will cast ballots for the Constituent Assembly – the 217 women and men charged with forging a new constitution. Many will read in this election’s coffee grinds regional implications. How[…]

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Not Another @Twitter Revolution

The Jasmine Revolution and the January 25 Revolution are not Twitter revolutions…sorry, but sometimes you just need to beat a dead horse. Only 131,204 Egyptians used Twitter as hundreds of thousands massed in Cairo earlier this year. Just 35,746 Tunisians tweeted along Avenue Habib Bourguiba and Le Kef during the days of rage and tear[…]

State-run media: Is this a joke?

Is state-run media the regime’s misguided last gasp?   This week we watched in disbelief as a Libyan state TV news anchor brandished an Ak-47 during a broadcast.  This type of spectacle symbolized the complete disconnect between Qadafi and his core supporters and the bulk of the Libyan population.  State-run media has surely attempted to[…]

Tunisia: Far from Over

At least they’re playing footie!  The formal dissolution of the Rally for Constitutional Democracy (RCD) in response to a request from the Minister of Interior has quickened erosion of the political edifice that was established after independence. The RCD (known as the Dustour Party under Ben Ali’s predecessor Habib Bourguiba) has ruled Tunisia since independence[…]