’s security state is threatening to undo the gains of the revolution, writes Fadil Aliriza
, Senior Visiting Fellow at the Legatum Institute (Democracy Lab
“Shortly after an explosion killed a dozen security agents on one of their own buses in Tunis, the Tunisian capital, on November 24, security forces started attacking journalists drawn to the scene, calling them terrorists. Within hours, pundits sympathetic to Tunisia’s old regime took to the airwaves to blame human rights lawyers and the freedoms that came with the revolution for the attack. Within a few days, the police violently raided more than 50 homes in a trendy middle-class neighborhood, arresting, interrogating and later releasing countless young men, according to a local resident and rights activist ... This kind of knee-jerk response to terrorism has become the norm in Tunisia."
"Observers are right to point out that acts of terrorism threaten Tunisia’s democratic gains—but Tunisia’s democracy advocates are quick to clarify that the real threat comes from the state’s response. So far, that response has been led by a group of security officials, politicians, pundits, and bureaucrats who regularly conflate terrorism and dissent. The root of the problem is that the security forces aren’t entirely under civilian control, that the Interior Ministry is subject to no meaningful oversight, and that it continues to have adversarial relations with ordinary citizens. These factors are fueling a counterproductive counter-terrorism strategy and a return to authoritarian policies. With help from their international partners, Tunisians will have to address these dangers in order to find real security and preserve their new democracy.”
Read: Why Counter-terrorism Could Be the Death of Tunisian Democracy
- Tunisia at Risk: Will counter-terrorism undermine the revolution? Paper by Fadil Aliriza, November 2015 [View]