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Tunisia: The life of others

By Kristina Kausch (14/07/2009) Working Paper
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Beyond Tunisia’s postcard image, the country is a special case among the countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) due to its combination of impressive socio-economic development on the one hand and a high level of political repression on the other.
Unlike most of its semi-authoritarian neighbours, which have – under increasing domestic and international pressures for democratisation – embarked on a (however limited) path of political reform, Tunisia shows no signs of opening up politically. Indeed, the opposite is true. Whilst in countries like Morocco, Jordan and Egypt openly violent repression belongs largely in the past, behind the façade Tunisia remains an old-style dictatorship built around one man, whose rule is held up by an openly repressive police state with few aspirations to subtlety.

This paper by Kristina Kausch outlines a number of key obstacles to free association in the everyday practice of Tunisian civic rights activism. These include the extra-legal position of the majority of political civil society; the regime’s policy of systematic surveillance and harassment of activists and opposition; the tight governmental control over the media and telecommunication channels; and the regime’s persistent policy of repression towards any political actors with an Islamist leaning.

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Middle East and North Africa. Euro-Mediterranean relations. Mediterranean geopolitics. Democracy and human rights

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FRIDE cesó sus actividades como think tank el 31 de diciembre de 2015 por razones económicas. El Patronato tuvo que adoptar esta difícil decisión dado que, a pesar de los intensos esfuerzos realizados para diversificar sus fuentes de financiación, FRIDE no puede sostener sus operaciones como think tank a partir de 2016.

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