While Iran supports the Shiite movement in Bahrain in the name of human rights, the U.S. Navy is carrying out joint maneuvers with the Bahraini Marines.
Ahmadinejad's speeches clearly show that Islamist Anti-Semitism is part of Anti-Americanism and of hate against Western democracies in general. Indeed, the Iranian President has predicted the West's downfall.
Populus interviewed 1,003 adults in Great Britain, by telephone, between 15th and 17th April 2011. Results have been weighted to be representative of the adult population in Great Britain. Populus is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. For more information see www.populus.co.uk.
In recent months there has been much speculation on presidential powers as well as on the way in which they are gradually being stripped away from Iranian president Ahmadinejad. In fact, there is an ongoing dispute between some members of the Khomeinist 'pseudo-parliament,' the Majless, and president Ahmadinejad. In the following article, the author explores the power struggles at the heart of the Iranian regime.
The European Foundation for Democracy is engaged in a series of public events aimed at bringing Afghan society closer to European audiences. Spanning four countries over two weeks, Afghan civil society guests will share their unique perspectives in areas such as access to healthcare, education, training and justice.
On 10th February, I met Selim Jeddi, Habib Sayah and some other young Tunisians living in Paris, who have recently founded the website El-Mouwaten ("The Citizen") (www.elmouwaten.com) following the Jasmine revolution with the aim of helping their country from abroad. Meeting them, I had the feeling that I was missing the point of the transitions taking place in countries like Tunisia and Egypt.
As a matter of fact, Tunisians, Egyptians and all other Arab peoples have or will have soon to learn how to be "responsible citizens", possessing both rights and duties. As Jeddi and Sayah note on their website "the fall of the dictatorship marked the advent of full citizenship in Tunisia. The Tunisians regained their freedom and their dignity. Nevertheless, this emancipation is still fragile. We must therefore enhance the political culture and civic consciousness in Tunisia to ensure that this freedom can be fully utilised." El Mouwaten constitutes part of this effort to venture an area of debate which, so far, has been off limits.
Learning to be free
When asked about the main problems faced by Tunisians in the post-Ben Ali era, they responded: "They have to learn what it means to be free." They pointed out that journalists in their country must be taught to think and write in a new way. After years of being limited in what they can write, they must now learn to use their own initiative. El Mouwaten's proposals echo 19th Century Tunisian intellectual and politician, Khayr al-Din al-Tunsi, who in his treatise "The surest path to knowledge concerning the conditions of countries" noted a substantial difference between the Islamic meaning of freedom and the European one, which implies "freedom of expression, press and thought." Contemporary Tunisians must now learn how to be free and responsible citizens. On the El Mouwaten website the founders state their main aims as the following: "Defend freedom of expression, media independence and free access to all sources of information without restriction. Defend freedom of conscience and promote the model of a tolerant and open society. Promote an independent judiciary in the context of a strict separation of powers. Defend and enhance women's freedom. Replace the values of meritocracy at the center of Tunisian society while struggling against social injustice and corruption."
Speaking out against extremism
Most of the articles they publish they write themselves, as young people between 20 and 25 of age. They want to ignite a debate on many issues but the main one is of course "citizenship", which must remain separate from religion. For this reason, they keep on publishing articles against the Islamisation of Tunisia, speaking out against those who want Tunisians to be defined by their religion. After the demonstrations at the Tunis Synagogue on 11th February, where slogans were shouted against Tunisian Jews, El Mouwaten posted articles stating that Tunisian Jews are part of the country's history and collective memory. On 19th February Myriam Cheikh wrote that enlightened and tolerant Tunisians "who respect other cultures, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion should react quickly so that what we are now calling a "revolution" will not turn into "regression"." Myriam ends her brave article by inviting Tunisians to act so that fanatics will not be able to impose a law that is not Tunisian at all. In another article Mohamed Sayah writes "the Tunisian is now a free person with rights because he is a citizen who can ask the government to act in his interest", reminding us of the government's duty to interact with citizens who must also act and react. On 2nd April Nedra Ben Smail's article "The trauma of the revolution and the fear of freedom" was published. "The exercise of freedom is not a time to rest," the author writes and El Mouwaten shows that there are young Tunisians who do not want to rest, they want to help their countrymen to take advantage of a unique chance to change Tunisia's destiny. However, they can only succeed if their minds are totally free from the chains of ideology. Even if Selim Jeddi and his friends did not take part in the Jasmine revolution itself, because they live in Paris, they are definitely part of it with their ideas, their writings and their strong faith in the power of the new Tunisian citizen.
Valentina Colombo is Senior Fellow at the European Foundation for Democracy in Brussels.
Tunisian women, their NGOs and their protection afforded by legislation have always been considered an example to follow inside the Arab world. Female adult illiteracy has dropped by 27% since 1980, but at 42% remains significant. Nevertheless, this figure is expected to drop as nearly 100% of girls were enrolled in primary school by 1998. Women currently make up approximately 31% of the workforce.