Islamic Groups Seek Power In Tunisia

During the past two decades militant Islamic force have waged war against the government of Algeria. They were not able to gain a foothold in neighboring Tunisia due to the dictatorial stance of President Ben Alli who suppressed any form of fundamentalism in his nation. Ben Ali is overthrown and the question arises as to whether Islamic forces will emerge in the turbulent, confusing world that presently constitutes politics in the nation. The promise of democracy in Tunisia also means the outlawed Ennahdha party will seek power in coming elections with their desire to install sharia style laws. Tunisian woman enjoy equal rights in what has been a Muslim secular society. For example, headscarves are banned in public buildings, and abortion is legal. Exiled leaders of the Muslim party are returning home where it is expected they will seek to become part of any new government. Al Qaeda forces in the region will attempt to take advantage of chaos in order to gain a foothold in an area they have been blocked from getting into.

Years ago, modern day founder, Habib Bourguiba not only won independence from France in the 1950s but he also created a modern secular Muslim nation in which people of all backgrounds enjoyed freedom of religion. Most leaders of liberal or worker groups oppose power for fundamentalism. We can expect that Ennahdha will speak the voice of moderation. The question is whether it is a ploy to get power or a belief that Tunisia must be an open society which welcomes people of all backgrounds and views.