According to the Tunisian Ministry of Justice, the Court of First Instance in Tunis issued anÂ arrest warrantÂ againstÂ Suha Arafat, the widowÂ of the formerÂ Palestinian leaderÂ YasserÂ Arafat.
TheÂ reasons for the decisionÂ haveÂ not beenÂ specified, according to Kadhem Zine Al Abidine, spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice, but it is with reference to the affair of the International School of Carthage that she founded in 2006 with Leila Trabelsi, the wife of former Tunisian President Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali.
One year after the establishment of the school, Suha Arafat was stripped of her Tunisian citizenship, which she acquired in 2004 after her husbandâ€™s death, and she was expelled from the country in August 2007, supposedly following a disagreement between her and Leila Ben Ali.
Mrs. Arafat explained previously that she has nothing to do with the International School which she founded with Mrs. Leila Trabelsi Â before she officially gave up her partnership in the school to Asmaa Mahjoub, Mrs. Leila Ben Aliâ€™s niece.
The 48-year-old Arafat spends most of her time in Malta, where she owns a house.
According to a leaked report from the United States ambassador to Tunisia in November, 2007, one possible theory for the revocation of Arafat’s Tunisians citizenship in 2007 was her visit to then-Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to ask for money. When Gaddafi confronted Ben Ali for failing to provide for Yasser Arafat’s widow, Ben Ali was so embarrassed he revoked her citizenship.
Tunisia’s small environmental parties emerged from Tunisia’s October 23rd election without a single seat in the new Constituent Assembly, leaving Tunisia’s evnironmental future in doubt.
The 217-member Constituent Assembly will have the power to draftÂ a new constitution and appoint a new transitional Â government, starting with the President and Prime Minister.
The top four political parties in the Constituent Assembly are Ennahda with 90 seats, followed by the Congress for the Republic (CPR) with 30 seats,then Ettakatol with 21 seats and Aridhaa Chaabia with 19 seats.
Tarek Nefzi, the head of the “Environment andÂ Green Economy” independent list, told Tunisia Live, “Our list was created in March, and we were not popular enough. We also did not have enough financial support to run a huge campaign.”
He continued, “Tunisians are really aware of the environmental problems facing Tunisia today, and they really want to protect the environment. However, they needÂ encouragements.”
Mr. Nefzi also talked about the importance of a green economy, especially protecting and paying more attention to agricultural resources. Careful environmental management will, according to Nefzi, create more jobs. In addition, he emphasized the promotion of agricultural Tourism (agri-Tourism), meaning tourists visiting agricultural regions, learning about the processes, and enjoying the landscape.
Abed Khader Zitouni, general coordinator of the Green Tunisia Party, said that they won no seats in the Constituent Assembly because of electoral violations. He told Tunisia Live, “The elections were fake and dishonest. Some political parties bought people’s voice.” Mr. Zitouni continues, “Our party was created in April 2004 and we did not get a visa until January 2011. We are the victims of Â a conspiracy; that’s why we did not win.”
Mr. Zitouni added that their aim is to protect the environment and find solutions to the environmental problems in Tunisia, such as re-building drainage systems. Flooding is a very current problem at the moment, as a day of heavy rain flooded many neighborhoods in Tunis and northern Tunisia.
Mr. Zitouni concluded, “All environmental parties, independent lists, and associations need to work together hand in hand, because all of us share the same aim: a better environment.”
Tunisian Internet users flooded the Facebook page of American President Barack Obama Sunday night with a uniquely Tunisian form of satire called “tanbir.” Their comments were sparked by recent news of Occupy Wall Street protesters injured in clashes with police in the United States, and they cast Obama in the role of Arab dictators who have recently been deposed or shaken by popular protests.
“Tunisian people denounce violations against the American people by the security forces, which affect the freedom of expression,” writes Tunisian Facebook user Fawzi Benarab.
Protests ousted former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on January 14th of this year, and popular uprisings followed across the Arab World. TunisianÂ citizens elected a Constituent Assembly to write a new constitution and appoint a new government on October 23rd.
An altered image from Facebook shows American President Obama in the place of former Tunisian President Ben Ali, saying, "Tanbir is not acceptable, it cannot be justified."
One Facebook post declares, “[Tunisian Chief of Staff] Rachid Ammar declares a no-fly zone over America to protect peaceful protesters from harm.” In March, the United Nations Security Council voted to establish a no-fly zone over Libya with the same justification. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) enforced the operation, with American and international military power.
TunisianÂ tanbirÂ involves the amplification and exaggeration of reality for humorous effect. It is not meant to be believed, but as satire it can be potent political commentary.
“Obama on the plane to Saudi Arabia,” reads another post. Ben Ali has lived in Saudi Arabia since January.
The most popular of the posts on Obama’s page focus on the reversal of roles. Within the past ten days, American protesters have been injured in clashes with American police, and Tunisians have held the first free and fair elections in their nation’s history. Young Tunisians, flush with their democratic success, are heading to Obama’s Facebook wall to re-write their own revolutionary stories using a cast of characters from the United States. The humor is a giddy declaration that Tunisians have arrived as equals among the democratic nations of the world.
ThroughÂ tanbir, Tunisia’s young Internet users exaggerate their nation’s success, casting Tunisia as the democratic example helping a troubled foreign country.Â One comment imagines that the US government has fallen to protesters and declares, “Tunisia is the first country to recognize the American Transitional Council.” The international community’s recognition of the Libyan National Transitional Council as the legitimate national authority in Libya was an important moment in the slow fall of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
As in most Internet humor, the references can play on very specific moments and quotations. “I am not a sun to- to- to- to sunny all over America,” Obama says in one satirical post. The quotation is taken from a point in Ben Ali’s final speech to Tunisia, the day before he fled the country, in which he appeared nervous and stuttered while trying to explain that he could not fix everyone’s problems at once.
“Samir Tarhouni at Chicago’s Airport to arrest Obama’s family,” writes another commenter. Over thirty members of the extended Ben Ali family were arrested in Tunis-Carthage airport the same night that Ben Ali fled Tunisia, and their legal case is ongoing. Samir Tarhouni is the Tunisian police officer who says he decided, on his own initiative, to go to the airport and arrest the fleeing members of the former regime.
In Arabic, French, and English, the posts lampoon familiar icons of American power and influence, including former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Wall Street, CNN, President Obama himself, and even cultural touchstones like hamburgers and hot dogs. “Snipers in Sidi Wall Street,” writes one poster, merging Wall Street with the birthplace of Tunisia’s revolution, Sidi Bouzid.
With over 130,000 comments since Sunday and new posts every minute, the sudden outpouring of satire demonstrates a new feeling of empowerment among young Tunisians. With a successful election behind them, suddenly, no power in the world feels beyond reach. Whether the comments are pro- or anti-Obama is largely beside the point next to a dramatic statement of Tunisian pride. Many posts refrain from satireÂ altogether and simply declare, “Viva Tunisie!”
Tunisians have also targeted the page of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Mixed in with the tanbir and pride are familiar cricisms of American foreign policy. “Free Iraq, Americans get the hell out,” reads one post. Several criticize America’s treatment of Palestine. “People want to free Palestine,” reads one comment, echoing the slogan of the Arab Spring, “The people want the fall of the regime.”
“Allahu akbar” appears occasionally, and one writes, “USA ennemy [sic] of Islam and pro Israel.”
The sudden phenomenon appears to be organic and mostly without leaders. Some posts call for one million posts in twenty-four hours; others urge Tunisians to visit other pages. Remarkably, the overwhelming majority of the posts are from Tunisia alone and no other Arab countries.
Americans may feel bemused or threatened by the flood of comments on their president’s Facebook page. Before social media, such large-scale meetings between distant cultures were impossible. After sparking the Arab Spring and holding a credible democratic election, Tunisia’s young revolutionaries continue to surprise the world.
by M. Adnen Chaouachi
The process of building a democracy in Tunisia was launched by demonstrations in the streets of towns and cities throughout the country, which led to the rapid departure of Ben Ali. Mohamed Bouazizi set himself alight in Sidi Bouzid on December 17th, 2010, and Ben Ali fled the country with his wife on January 14th, 2011. The citizens of Tunisia began to enjoy freedom of speech, expression and the media, and organized free and fair elections which were held on October 23rd. These events summarize the different factors that shook Tunisia over the past 10 months.
Yet, there’s a missing element on the list. It is the announcement of the results of the elections, which has been given much attention by local and foreign observers who are trying to understand how the Constituent Assembly will look like. In simple terms, the announcement is just an event that takes place after the votes are counted, the results gathered and finally communicated to the organizing committee, the Higher Independent Authority for the Elections (ISIE). On October 27th, however, the announcement of the results was not easy for many Tunisians. Today, many Tunisians claim that some political parties should never have risen to power as they are too radical or too liberal, not representing the will of the people.
To classify and judge political parties might be legitimate when discussing politics with friends or the family. But politicians, political commentators and journalists with close media ties and an impact on public opinion should be more responsible and think twice before making radical comments. This, by no means, implicates a return to censorship, but rather a responsibility for the consequences of public statements and actions. In the past, those who dared denouncing injustice and censorship were jailed and prohibited from having any professional activity. For years, the majority of Tunisian political parties suffered from censorship and exclusion that was thoroughly enforced by the government. Today, Tunisians are proud that the country’s emerging democracy is an open space for divergent political orientations and heated debates.
The results of the elections have been communicated to the world. The moderate Islamic party Ennahda and the Congress for the Republic (CPR) will dominate the Constituent Assembly for the period of transition. It is a scenario that nobody expected. If you have followed the media coverage of the electoral campaign, you have probably thought that Ennahda and the CPR will have some seats but never the majority. Yet, predictions were mere a senseless understanding of the newly born Tunisian democracy. They misrepresented the voting patterns and the political affiliations of the people, both in the Tunisian capital and remote areas.
The political debates and programs broadcast on some Tunisian media outlets have played a significant role in misleading the public opinion and underestimating the power of Ennahda and the CPR. There was a gap between the media’s understanding of the political situation in Tunisia and the reality on the ground. These two parties were demonized and accused of benefiting from foreign funds and assistance. The media thought that attacking these parties would weaken them and pave the ground for more liberal voices to occupy the seats at the Constituent Assembly. This strategy and propaganda, however, has had the opposite effect because it was based on accusations without evidence. Indeed, instead of preventing people from voting for Ennahda and the CPR, it reinforced their belief that the “victims” of the past were still targeted. The reaction was certainly unexpected but “natural”. At this level, one wonders whether we should trust our media outlets or the results of the elections, which have been described by foreign governments and the international media as “fair” and “transparent”.
M. Adnen Chaouachi is a journalist and radio presenter on Tunis International Radio. He is also a Teaching Assistant of Communication at the ISSHT, the University of Tunis-El Manar. M. Adnen Chaouachi is currently working on political communication and propaganda in the media.
Al-Chorouk ?????? (The Sunrise), Daily Independent
Marzouki Refuses Essebsi As Next President
Asaaidi Ghaddafi Flees to Saudi Arabia
Political Parties Condemn the Violent Incidents and Corruption in Sidi Bouzid and Demand That Enemies ofÂ Revolution Be Exposed
Bachar Al Assad Threatens Disaster in Middle East If West Tries to Intervene
Politicians and Media Figures Assessing Gannouchi’s Statement on Hannibal TV
Floods All Over Tunisia
Because of Heavy Rain, 6 Planes in Monastir Airport Instead of Enfidha
In Ariana, Aid Sheep for 500dt
Price of Tobacco Increasing
Abassi, Ben Moussa, Abidi, and Ben Sedrine Declare: We Support Independence of the Judiciary
According to Egyptian Journal, Gaddafi Tried to Assassinate Mubarak Twice
Assabah al-Osbouii ?????? ???????? (The Morning Weekly), Weekly Independent
Following Black Friday in Sidi Bouzid, Hamdi’s Brother Accuses Ennahdha
3 Dead in Floods Yesterday
Political Segregation of the Country on a Religious Basis Made People Choose Religion
Al-Bayane ?????? (The Statement), Weekly Independent
How Ennahdha Succeeded in Elections: Interpretations of Experts of the Results of the Elections
Floods in North of Country
Football: Club African Qualified to the Final of CAF Cup
Football: CAN 2012, Tunisia Faces Morocco
Ibrahim Ltaief Film Producer: I Am Afraid of Ennahdha and I Refuse to Allow Minister of Culture to be From Ennahda
Tunis-Hebdo (Tunis Weekly), Weekly Independent
Ten Palestinians and an Israeli Killed
Three Dead From Torrential Rain
Ennahda Takes Lion’s Share
Last Drink of Beer
Return Now to Our Sheep!
Olive Oil Processes to Modernize
What New Revenue Policy for the Second Republic?
First Free Elections: Ennahda’s Victory Does Not Trouble Tunisians
La Presse (The Press), Daily Independent
Torrential Rain Places Some Areas on Red Alert
3 People Died in Zaghouan Because of the Rain
8 Planes Coming From the UK Rerouted Because of Rain
Sidi Bouzid Incidents Were Staged
Reforms Need to be Made in the Juvenile Delinquency Centers
Regional Development in Tunisia: 49 New Propositions
Electricity in Tunisia: Increasing Demand and New Projects
Tunisia: Increase of the Price of Primary Products
First Startup Weekend in Sidi Bouzid
Heavy Rains Resulted in 3 Dead
Hechmi Hamdi Retracts and Does Not Withdraw His Lists
Politics: Era of Coalitions and Calculations
Whatâ€™s the Future of Abdelfattah Mourou ? Will He Return to Ennahda ?
Who Are the Eleven Candidates to Run the Tunisian Association for Magistrates?
Will the Government Be Collaborative?
Here are the top stories from Tunisia, October 30th, 2011:
Hachmi Hamdi, the leader of the party Aridha Chaabia, has been the center of attention during the past few days due to his controversial announcements and decisions.
After winning 25 seats in the Constituent Assembly, and then losing 6 of them, Tunisian newspapers had to write about the man who surprised most Tunisians and shocked competing parties and lists.
Chourouk’s article about Hamdi today was entitled “Hamdi again on Hannibal TV: calming down..flirting..and fawning”. The article wrote that the leader of Al Aridha “continues to surprise the political scene” with his unexpected decisions. He decided to withdraw his lists, and anticipated violent reactions in his hometown Sidi Bouzid. Such an anticipation “was interpreted as an indirect incitement of protests” that happened following his announcement.
Chourouk briefely discussed Hamdi’s complicated relationship with Ennahda. “Despite Jebali’s indifference to Hamdi’s first attempt of reconciliation, Hamdi tried again with Samir Dilo… He went as far as asking for forgiveness” even though he did not demand an apology in return from Ennahda. He even called Ennahda his “second home”.
In the same article, different responses to Hamdi’s success in the election were addressed. While Dilo “responded positively to Hamdi and greeted him back showing forgiveness”, Mohsen Marzouk’s comment was harsh as he was surprised by “Hamdi’s fawning of the ex-regime and now Ennahda… One might wonder on whom he is going to fawn next.”
La Presse was attacking Hechmi Hamdi in a more direct way. “Serial turncoat” is the title of the article categorized under “Profile of Hechmi Hamdi”.
“Trouble, more than controversial, perceived like a messiah by thousands of people notably those of Sidi Bouzid, called by different names by lawyers and heads of parties and lists” is how La Presse described the leader of Al Aridha.
The writer questioned Hamdi’s reasons behind his “incoherent and puzzling career”, suggesting that his “fascination by power and fierce need to stay under the spot” are what keep him go on “and exhaust all of his cards on different media channels”.
This criticism was followed by a detailed biography of Hechmi Hamdi that also dealt with his controversial history with Ennahda. Another part of the article was about his â€œsuspiciousâ€ relations with the former regime and asked: “Is Hechmi Hamdi a double agent?”
As the future of Al Aridha Chaabia remains partially unknown for now, Hechmi Hamdi will probably stay on the spot at least until ISIE’s final decisions about the appeals in two weeks.
Heavy rain flooded the streets of Tunis and uncovered the absence of public services.
On October 29th, during a visit to the Â Tamim Foundation,Â former Interior Minister Ahmed Friaa revealed some of the concomitantsÂ circumstances that occurred during his rule, which lasted from 12 to 27 January 2011. Mr. Friaa expressed his distress and concerns in regards to the accusations he is facing, of which that of being against the Tunisian Revolution and one of Ben Ali’s henchmen. Such accusations have left him perplex as to their foundation, as he says he doesn’t understand where they come from.
He revealed that, on 11 January, Ben Ali called him and explained to him that he did not know what was really going on, and that his advisors tended to mislead him and hide the truth from him. That’s when, Friaa says, Ben Ali offered him the position, which he accepted, hoping to stabilize the situation.
The former interior minister apologized to those who he hadÂ unintentionallyÂ harmed, and for being a part of a regime that was persecuting its own people. He also added that many of the political figures dominating the post-revolution political arena were once Ben Ali’s supporters. He also said we ought to give Tunisian youth a fullÂ opportunity to build Tunisia.
Yesterday, October 29th, the election observers of the Tunisian League of Human Rights (LTDH) and the European Union presented their preliminary reports, revealing several electoral violations and inappropriate actions.
According to Abdessattar Ben Moussa, President of the LTDH, flaws occurred before, during and after the campaign.
During the pre-electoral campaign period, inadequate judicial laws were observed, which neglected the issue of political advertising.
Violations during the campaign itself involved the use of foreign television channels to advertise, unclear financial rules, as well as the appointment of members of political parties as heads of polling stations.
Ben Moussa also stated that the 48 hours allocated after the campaign to appeal were insufficient and it is necessary to extend this deadline to four days at least.
In total, 3,800 accredited observers supplied the observatory with a pool of information. They produced 8,000 data forms supervised by regional and local coordinators.
Trained observers, several associations and members of civil society joined the LTDH to form the observatory that monitored the elections and publishes a final report in two months’ time, according to Ali Zeddine, national coordinator of the elections observatory.
The European Union observers reported around 700 irregularities during the electoral process.
Maria Espinosa, Deputy Chief of the European Observers, noted that the most frequent errors were related to the lists’ logos and the spelling of names.
Espinosa highlighted the importance of the missions’ monitoring of polling stations to assess Tunisia’s first democratic elections and reassured that the mission will remain in the country to observe the post-elections phase.