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Tunisia’s Islamist party causes concern

The New York Times reports that when Tunisians go to the polls on July 24th, the outcome may favor conservative Islamists.  Islamists played a very minor role in the country’s disposal of former President Ben Ali, however since then the party has seen a resurgence.  Now, they looked poised to possibly score an electoral victory.  This is leaving some Tunisians worried:

Despite repeated assurances of their tolerance and moderation, their rise has touched off frenzied rumors of attacks on unveiled women and artists, of bars and brothels sacked by party goons, of plots to turn the country into a caliphate.

Still, it must be said that the party’s rising popularity does signify that there are Tunisians who favor the conservative party and the Islamist policies that it could bring.  The article suggests that it is a matter of liberal, Westernized coastal Tunisia versus the poorer, more conservative interior.  That characterization lacks nuance, and in the case of this article proof, but if it is true then the upcoming months should be fascinating.

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