The threat from the Islamists in Tunisia

Submitted by Matthew on 21 November, 2012 - 12:13

Ahlem Belhadj, a doctor and a member of the UGTT trade union, is best known as the president of the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women. Ahlem has also been a Trotskyist for many years, and is currently a member of the Left Workers’ League (LGO).


Against Ennhada [the Islamist party currently ruling Tunisia], what about those who propose a broad front ranging from the left to the supporters of the old regime?

Several problems are posed by Ennahda. There are those concerning democracy and freedom, and also the social and economic problems, which are fundamental.

If things are going badly in Tunisia, it is because no answer has been given to the demands of the poorest and the middling layers of society, and instead their situation has worsened with the policies of the Ennahda neoliberals.

There has been an increase in the number of unemployed, maybe to a million, and a big rise in prices. Daily life is becoming more difficult. In different regions and sectors, people are mobilising.

To want to make that sort of all-inclusive front against Ennahda, without taking into account the economic aspect, is a bad choice.

Some say Ennahda represents “moderate Islamism”...

I do not think that is true. We challenge the very idea. Ennahda is a very heterogeneous movement, with which extremists and moderates. Admittedly, some of its members are moderate, but the project itself is not moderate.

Ennahda refuses, for example, to include a reference to universal human rights in the preamble of the constitution. That religious reflex is very worrying, and all the Ennahda members of parliament voted for it.

Is Tunisia moving towards a theocratic dictatorship like Iran?

That risk would arise with a counter-revolution. But I am more optimistic. The social movement is lively, and we have a society that is truly mobilising.

A process that was unleashed long before 14 January [the outbreak of the uprising which toppled the old regime] is still ongoing. The proof is what happens on a daily basis. Every day, there are dozens if not scores of mobilisations in all sectors: workers, journalists, lawyers, feminists, etc.

It is really a very important social awakening. Nothing is yet, definitive, in one direction or the other.

What is certain is the need for answers to the needs of the Tunisians people, and Ennahda is unable to provide them. For that reason, either Ennahda will try to impose a dictatorship or the movement will sweep it aside. Everything remains open at this time, because the people are still mobilised.

And there is the international factor. Tunisia is not a country isolated from the rest of the world.

In other words, the revolution continues. It is a permanent revolution!

• From Tout est à nous, weekly paper of the NPA, 1/11/2012.