Women power in Tunisia?

Tunisian women are becoming increasingly concerned at the possible consequences of Islamist rule – Published on Al-Ahram weekly online, by Lasaad Ben Ahmed, 16 – 22 August 2012 (see picture).

Women’s Day, held on 13 August, was marked by exceptional events in Tunisia this year, with hundreds of Tunisian women gathering for a night-time demonstration at 14 January Square on Al-Habib Bourguiba Street in the capital Tunis. The demonstration was a clear signal of defiance to the Islamist groups that Tunisian women feel are threatening their rights, despite reassurances that the ruling Islamist Al-Nahda Party will not seek to change the country’s liberal personal status laws. 

The fears had been stoked after the first draft of the country’s proposed new constitution had referred to women’s “complementarity” to men, which Tunisian women reject, saying that they want equality and not complementarity. The use of the word in the draft constitution triggered a series of protests, especially among the country’s opposition and the nascent Tunisia Call Party led by former prime minister Al-Beji Caid Al-Sebsi.

In a statement, Al-Sebsi said that the personal status laws were a “red line” that could not be crossed, as any infringement of women’s rights would undermine modern Tunisian society.

Some observers feel that the reactions to the word have been exaggerated, since it was used in a draft version of the new constitution that will be debated after the Tunisian parliament returns from recess in early September … //

… The political dimensions of such conflicts have been illustrated in the fractures that have taken place in the ruling troika government and the unrest that took place in the constituent assembly during the last week before parliament’s recess.

On this occasion, several MPs joined the Tunisia Call Party, making the Party a member of the assembly even though its candidates had not stood in the elections. This in itself will mean that the previous kind of heated politics will return in full force when the assembly reconvenes. (full text).


More clothes than cars, on Al-Ahram weekly online, photo by Sherif Sonbol, 16 – 22 August 2012: Street in downtown Cairo is busier than usual these days. As the end of Ramadan approaches, the clothes on display on the street are enticing families to buy new outfits for the Eid holidays. The poor economic situation of the country is also making cheap quality goods attractive to people who don’t make that much money. But these huge open-air clothes markets, with their dozens of mobile racks, are also taking up three-quarters of the roads …;

South Africa Mine Shooting: Police Fire At Striking Mine Workers, on Huffington Post, by Jon Gambrell, August 16, 2012: JOHANNESBURG — South African police opened fire Thursday on a crowd of striking miners that charged a line of officers trying to disperse them, killing some and wounding others in one of the worst shootings by authorities since the end of the apartheid era …

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