The Associated Press story entitled “Tunisian Islamists Spark Fear of Culture War” has a passage that accurately describes the situation Expats currently find themselves in:
“New religious freedoms have also opened the way for the Salafis, who are now in a daily battle for hearts and minds with equally hardline secular elements entrenched in the media and the elite. Television stations, Western embassies and government offices have all felt the conservatives’ wrath.”
This “conservative wrath” has been the main focus of our analysis during the past month or so and it’s been quite an interesting time. From protests to alleged plots, flag burnings to suspicious meetings, the conservative wrath is no easy assignment to keep up with.
On the opposite side of the spectrum (or more towards the middle), we’ve also been tracking the ‘moderates’ attempts to deal with this whole situation. At this point we can put forward several observations:
- The conservative wrath is led by a small and vocal minority that does not in any way represent the vast majority of Tunisians.
- Although small in number, the conservative wrath presents several security concerns. As the article points out, the so-called war of words is taking place against a “backdrop of armed radical movements just over the porous borders in neighboring Algeria and Libya, and there are worries that Tunisia’s aggressive demonstrations could evolve into an armed struggle if the competing demands are not handled carefully.”
- It is still unclear how the Tunisian authorities will ‘deal’ with this small, vocal, and increasingly active minority.
In the Middle
Tunisia is in the middle…in the middle of writing a new Constitution….in the middle of choosing a path…in the middle of two very challenging countries. Some even suggest that Tunisia is experiencing a middle class revolution.
As Expats we find ourselves in the middle of historic times with a lot to be excited and concerned about.