8 Reasons Tunisia Is Not Egypt (And Vice-Versa)

Two revolutions, two months apart, that launched the Arab Spring. Three years later, the respective quests for democracy in Tunisia and Egypt are in very different places.

8 Reasons Tunisia Is Not Egypt (And Vice-Versa)
TUNIS – What came to be called the Arab Spring began in December 2010 after a young vegetable seller in the Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid set himself on fire in protests. The anti-regime protests soon spread to the capital, and not long afterward across North Africa to Egypt, the largest and most influential country in the Arab world. In two months, the long-ruling dictators of both countries had been deposed, and democracy movements appeared on their way to victory.
Much has happened since in Egypt and Tunisia, and elsewhere in the region, even as a full-fledged war continues to rage in Syria. But this past week has also seen two starkly different pictures in Tunisia and Egypt that are worth noting.
In Cairo, the military-led government has pushed through a new Constitution, and looks more ready than ever to assert its full control of the country after deposing popularly elected Mohammed Morsi in July. Meanwhile, Tunisia is again celebrating – and being celebrated as a democratic example for the region – after the passage by Parliament of a new Constitution, reached after hard-won political compromise amongst all major components of civil society.
The respective quests for democracy in Tunisia and Egypt are indeed in very different places, and here are some basic reasons why:
1. Tunisia's military is comparatively weak and not a dominant force on the political scene. Egypt's army is everywhere.
2. Tunisian television, unlike Egyptian TV, does not broadcast sycophantic clips of the army hard at work.

3. Tunisia's new government of technocrats was achieved after Islamists agreed to give up power, rather than have it wrested away from them by men in uniform.
4. Tunisia's constitution, produced by an elected Assembly, does not name Sharia law and guarantees gender equality before the law (women's rights were also inserted into the new, recently approved Egyptian constitution that was de facto imposed by Egypt's military-backed government)
5. Tunisia's main Islamist Party has not been declared a terrorist organization by the state unlike what has happened with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
Members of Tunisia's main Islamist party Ennahda take part in approval of constitution (Ennahda)
6. The post-revolutionary Tunisian Islamists never had the same clout as Egyptian Islamists — Tunisian Islamists, with only about 40% of the seats in the parliament, were required to compromise and work with non-Islamist allies.
7. The new Tunisian constitution was not pushed through by Islamists against the wishes of a significant portion of the population, as happened under Morsi in Egypt last year.
St. Mark Church, Cairo Bakar88
8. Unlike Egypt, Tunisia is not home to significant groups of religious minorities. Almost all Tunisians are officially registered as Muslims, and almost all of those Sunni. Egypt's Christian minority has been a target of pro-Brotherhood, anti-army Egyptians, who blame Christians for their leaders' prominent support of the summertime coup. This has led to widely publicized violence, including the burning of churches, fanning the flames of anger and distrust across society.
(cover image: Tunisia's President of the Republic Moncef Marzouki after having signed the new constitution - photo Chokri Mahjoub/ZUMA)
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A Mother In Spain Denied Child Custody Because She Lives In Rural Area

A court in Spain usurps custody of the one-year-old boy living with his mother in the "deep" part of the Galicia region, forced to instead live with his father in the southern city of Marbella, which the judge says is "cosmopolitan" with good schools and medical care. Women's rights groups have taken up the mother's case.

A child in Galician countryside

Laure Gautherin

A Spanish court has ordered the withdrawal of a mother's custody of her one-year-old boy because she is living in the countryside in northwestern Spain, where the judge says the child won't have "opportunities for the proper development of his personality."

The case, reported Monday in La Voz de Galicia, has sparked outrage from a women's rights association but has also set off reactions from politicians of different stripes across the province of Galicia, defending the values of rural life.

Judge María Belén Ureña Carazo, of the family court of Marbella, a city on the southern coast of 141,000 people, has ordered the toddler to stay with father who lives in the city rather than with his mother because she was living in "deep Galicia" where the child would lack opportunities to "grow up in a happy environment."

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - October 25, 2021

Front page of La Voz de Galicia - Monday 25 October, 2021

La Voz de Galicia

Better in a "cosmopolitan" city?

The judge said Marbella, where the father lives, was a "cosmopolitan city" with "a good hospital" as well as "all kinds of schools" and thus provided a better environment for the child to thrive.

The mother has submitted a formal complaint to the General Council of the Judiciary that the family court magistrate had acted with "absolute contempt," her lawyer told La Voz de Galicia.

The mother quickly accumulated support from local politicians and civic organizations. The Clara Campoamor association described the judge's arguments as offensive, intolerable and typical of "an ignorant person who has not traveled much."

The Xunta de Galicia, the regional government, has addressed the case, saying that any place in Galicia meets the conditions to educate a minor. The Socialist party politician Pablo Arangüena tweeted that "it would not hurt part of the judiciary to spend a summer in Galicia."

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