“Tunisia and Morocco are our longstanding friends and constructive partners,” Donald Rumsfeld, US defence secretary, Feb. 11, 2006.
On November 5, 2008 – President General Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s government announced the release of 21 members of banned ‘Islamist party’, Al Nahdha , seving long term in jail – as part of the 21st anniversary of General’s assuming of on-going secular dictatorship from Habib Bourguiba on November 7, 1987. However, party’s leader, Sadok Chourou 61, was re-arrested on December 3 for allegedly “to revive party’s activities” and has been sentenced to one year in jail. He was first arrested in the 1990s and accused of toppling Ben Ali’s illegal and undemocratic government. Al Nahdha party was established in early 1980s.
Habib Bourguiba (d. 2000) ruled Tunisia with iron-grip since the country gained independence from French colonists on March 20, 1956. Since its independence – most political parties have been banned, foreign coresspondents (BBC, Reuters, AFP, etc.) have been thrown out and over 20,000 so-called “Islamists” have been put behind jails.
In 1981 – Tunisia under Bourgiub regime, following Kemalist Turkey, became the second Muslim majority country to ban Hijab in public places.
Like other secular dictators in Muslim nation-states, such as, Husni Mubarrak (Egypt), Col. Ghadafi (Libya), and Abdulaziz Boutrflika (Algeria) – Ben Ali is also very allergic to Islamic Shari’ah laws and Islamic parties in Tunisia. He, too, like other western-sponsored Muslim dictators – keeps being re-elected with mass-majority of voters (since there is no other candidate!!).
While the West is in habit of accusing Islam being anti-democratic – the western power are also affraid to implement democratic reform within countrolled by their puppet regimes – as their experiences in Algeria, Turkey, occupied Palestine, and Lebanon has shown them that being democratic in Muslim nation-states is not good for western interests. For example, Tunisia had promulgated a Constitution in 1860, setting up a Supreme Council purporting to limit the powers of the monarchy. But this was suspended in 1864, when French colonialists realized that it interfered with their ambitions. In 1996 – Pope John Paul II, chose Tunisia, for his first visit to a North African Muslim county – to give booster to Ben Ali’s dictorial regime and Algerian military junta, which has murdered more than 50,000 civilians in the name of fighting religious fundamentalism.
The leader of Tunisia’s main Islamic party, Rachid Ghannouchi, has lived in exile since 1980s.
Tunisia is the smallest country in North Africa (Arab Maghreb) but much closer to Europe (90 miles from Sicily). It has an estimated population of over 12 million – with 99% following Islam’s Sunni School of Thought and the rest 1% Jews and Christians. Its natural resources are Oil, Phosphate, iron ore, Lead, and Zinc.
Islam was brought to Tunisia by Arabs in in the 7th century. Tunisia became a center of Arab culture until its assimilation into the Turkish Ottoman Empire in the 16th century. Both Tunisia and Ageria were colonized by French in 1881.
Zionism and oil have been some the major factors in the downfall of Ottoman Empire in the Arab world and North Africa. The Zionist movement was founded on a confluence of Jewish and Western interests in the Middle East. In time, this lead in 1917 to Britain’s support for the creation of a State for European Jewry in the Palestine, dismantling of Ottoman Empire in 1919, the vivisection of former Ottoman territories in the Levant, the British mandate over Palestine, and the creation of Israel in 1948. The Islamic Crescent had been splintered, finally, and part of it occupied by a Zionazi Jewish colonial-settler state.