The following piece was authored by GFI's Tunisia Country Director, Asma Ben Hassen Darragi. Asma has been working with GFI in Tunisia for almost 3 years, where she leads the local implementation of the Tunisia Inclusive Labor Initiative (TILI).
TUNIS, JULY 15 - Once again, terrorism strikes our country. The treacherous and brutal attack has left us all in a state of shock. We are all well Saware of the gravity and seriousness of the situation. However, it’s not just the attack that worries us, but also the reality that lies behind it: an evil ploy that seeks to demolish the state, weaken its economy, and impede its democratic process.
We dreamed of a new Tunisia, a free, fair, and democratic Tunisia. But, here we are, with an abused and poor Tunisia that seems to be the victim of its own democracy. The new democratic process is now home to extremists that seek to create chaos in the country. Tunisia is still a young democracy at a perilous, embryonic stage that could easily perish in spite of the will of its people to overcome their differences and achieve the goals of their revolution.
No one can deny that the first months after the revolution have determined a new destiny of Tunisia, and still no government has been able to overcome the political, security, and economic vacuum in the country. The fall of the old regime and its repercussions on security matters are far reaching. Religious fundamentalists and arm dealers have infiltrated our borders and amid economic malaise and political instability, terrorists have taken root in one of the most moderate and inclusive societies in the Arab world.
The nature of the latest attacks confirms the motive to destroy the tourism industry, a key sector in Tunisia that was strongly affected by the revolution. The paralysis of the mining sector and the flight of foreign direct investment has caused the national economy to collapse dramatically, leaving many without work and threatening the national union of the revolution.
Poverty, unemployment, and regional disparities increasingly exclude and marginalize people who are now the first targets of the terrorist recruiting networks that falsely promise a more just life in the hereafter. Unsurprisingly, the winning of the Nidaa Tounis party in the last election was based on its campaign that promised national security and economic recovery. However, far from recovery, the situation has since soured. Tunisia’s democracy will pay the price for the lack of a thoughtful political, economic, and social strategy and a firm security policy that does not diminish Tunisians’ human rights and newly acquired freedoms.
Such a strategy should ensure political stability, the necessary condition for the establishment of an economic and social recovery program that affirms the inclusion of all Tunisians. As social tensions threaten to destabilize the country and continue to disrupt the government's efforts, civil society should foster awareness, disseminate Tunisia’s values, and protect a vulnerable youth targeted by religious fanatics.
Moreover, civil society must extend the implementation of an inclusive social and economic program that supports Tunisians and maintains our national union.
Although our revolution has led to a real democratic progress, the journey to consolidate our gains is still long. It is imperative to fight together against the single enemy that is "terrorism". Our politicians must rise to the challenge of strengthening and preserving our unity.
by Asma Ben Hassen Darragi