Home Institution

Loyola University Chicago

Publication Date

Spring 2011

Program Name

Tunisia: Emerging Identities in North Africa


Tunisia is a country with a rich and diverse historical and cultural background that has absorbed many ideas from western thought into its political and educational systems. For many years, the Tunisian “Republic” had the appearance of a government similar to Western democracies, yet the president’s actions were very far from those of a democratically elected president. The flaws in former president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali (Ben Ali)’s government in addition to sweeping unemployment and underdevelopment were the factors which led to the major uprising that became the Tunisian revolution. Although the revolution was a great symbolic victory for the Tunisian people, especially the youth who were the main participants, it is only the first step of many to reestablish a new Tunisian government with true democratic values and practices. The very young Tunisians who were so persistent in driving away Ben Ali are those who are still taking their roles as Tunisian citizens in order to continue the process toward democracy and the scheduled elections on July 24th. Prior to the revolution, Ben Ali’s ruling party was consistently elected to power, and his censorship of other political entities essentially prohibited the success of opposing campaigns. For this, the Tunisian population was neither educated about the political process nor did it have interest in staying informed about Ben Ali’s masquerade government. However, the revolution has opened the door to freedom in politics, and the developing political freedom has led to the creation of political parties that never had the opportunity to exist under Ben Ali’s rule. While these parties are frantically trying to prepare themselves in order to be viable candidates for the upcoming elections, young Tunisians are trying to educate themselves about democratic politics after a twenty-three year period of apathy due to the blatant abuse of democracy by Ben Ali’s regime.


Civic and Community Engagement | Critical and Cultural Studies | Growth and Development | Inequality and Stratification | Peace and Conflict Studies | Politics and Social Change | Social Influence and Political Communication


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