From Authoritarian to Free State: Balancing Faith and Politics in Tunisia

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Discourses on the Arab revolutions have, to date, focused on regime change and its implications for future democratization in the region. This essay explores the impetus behind the religio-political tensions in Tunisia and posits that to grasp the events unfolding since 2010 the unrest must be located within an understanding of the dynamic between the Islamists and the state
under President Habib Bourguiba, and later, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. The essay revisits the terms revolutionary and revolution within the Tunisian context and reflects on the application of the label revolutionary, contending that the act of selective labelling bears implications for an objective understanding of the revolution and its actors. Finally, the essay evaluates how far the political tensions of the past continue to mark the present through the subsequent generation of religious movements emerging from the revolution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13-36
Number of pages24
JournalMediterranean Quarterly
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


  • Revolution
  • Resistance
  • Society
  • Religion
  • Political Islam
  • Tunisia
  • Politics
  • Arab revolutions


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