In all states where the winds of the Arab Spring blew, the slogans of youth aspiring for justice, equality and freedom were hijacked by forces operating under the banner of religion.
Let’s talk about the examples of Libya and Tunisia. After the people in these countries succeeded in toppling repressive regimes, they were able to organise fair and transparent elections. From these elections emerged representative institutions that reflected the diversity and pluralism of the Libyan and Tunisian nations and their pluralistic character.
Islamic movements did not win an absolute majority in either country. Many parties, particularly salafist organisations, still seek to impose their beliefs on society by force.
In Tunisia, newspapers are filled with reports of attacks by the salafists. They occupy mosques and impose their own imams. As for Libya, salafists are demolishing mosques, mausoleums and Christian graves.
How can the peoples of Tunisia and Libya build the rule of law, while groups claiming to possess divine right seek to rewrite the behaviours, beliefs and habits of the community?
Transitional authorities in both Libya and Tunisia tolerate salafist excesses and do not implement the law against these groups.
A number of Ennahda leaders in Tunisia claimed that a confrontation with salafists would destabilise society. In Libya, the interior minister denied any failure to protect places of worship.
The salafists and their allies in Islamist groups will continue to take advantage of the new freedom and democracy in Libya and Tunisia. They will continue to impose their own “justice and law”, their own conception of what makes a “good” society and their own manner of dress.
And they will continue to rebel against the institutions of the civil state and the rule of law and its representatives.
Tunisians and Libyans must determine their own futures and the form of state they want.
The choice is between a civilised state that applies law equally to all citizens and mediates all disputes, or one governed by groups that claim a monopoly on religion.
As time goes by, signs of religiosity become more apparent… more
Salafists’ use of violence to impose their ideas and opinions… more
Random acts of violence seeking to impose a different order… more