December 22, 2011
Following this spring’s Arab revolutions, Tunisians and Moroccans have started their own experiments with the democratisation of their societies. In Tunisia, the moderate Ennahda Islamic party has won close to 40 percent of votes in October. Unable to govern on its own, it entered a coalition with a local liberal party and the left-of-centre Ettakatol party. The coalition commands a 139-seat majority out of a 217-seat assembly, which sees as its main task that of re-writing the country’s constitution. The interim president of the country is Moncef Marzouki, a secularist with credentials as a dissident imprisoned by the Ben Ali regime.
In November, the Moroccans gave the electoral victory to the PJD (the Justice and Development Party), considered as moderate Islamic. With only 28 percent of the votes cast, the PJD too was forced into an alliance with the USFP (Socialist Union of Popular Forces) and the traditionalist Istiqlal party. Although the PJD is currently toying with the idea of introducing Islamic-type financial institutions, the new government’s main priority is reassuring big tourism operators that the country is once again safe for Western tourists.
While these political developments seem reassuring enough to Western analysts and observers, the new political tendencies in Libya are not. Thus, in a recent meeting celebrating the victory over the Qaddafi regime, interim president and leader of the CNT, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, has abandoned earlier pledges to modernise the country and called instead for the introduction of the Sharia (or Islamic law), polygamy and Islamic banking models. The proposed changes do not augur well for the embattled country of some 5 million, but they come as no surprise to this observer, if one takes into account the fact that Libya gravitates geopolitically towards Saudi Arabia and the micro-kingdoms of the Gulf.
Professional fear-mongers in the West are unfortunately using the electoral victories of Islamic forces to predict a sweeping Islamisation of politics of the entire Arab world. One should remember, however, that the former Spanish colonies in Latin America also share a common race, religion and culture, but the Bolivarian dream of uniting the post-colonial states into a single entity has never borne fruit. (sources: Le Nouvel Observateur, Foreign Policy magazine, Reuters, The Guardian, Courrier International)Florian Pantazi