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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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Pakistani govenor slain

The New York Times is reporting that Salman Taseer, Punjab governor and ally of President Asif Ali Zardari, was killed by his police guard.  Pakistan seems to grow ever more calamitous, where the military competes with politicians for leadership and where taking stances against religious extremism invites reprisals.

Mr. Taseer’s death will serve as a chilling warning to any politician who speaks out against the religious parties and their fundamentalist agenda and will certainly end immediate attempts to amend the blasphemy laws, politicians said. “It is a loss to progressive forces — he stood up for what he believed in,” one of his party colleagues, legislator Sherry Rehman, said.

Islamist politics win out

This story is not news, but it is still a great article for those who read this blog.  From the New York Times, it concisely lays out how God has become central to politics in the Middle East.