Protests sweep Tunisia....again


Date:                September 27, 2013



Mohammed Brahmi's assassination sparked current crisis in Tunisia. (Photos courtesy Flickr/Amine Ghrabi)

Tunisia (MNN) ― Countries involved in the Arab Spring have not changed much at all.

Most of the nations have remained in turmoil with the rise of Islamist powers that rushed to fill the power vacuum.

Tunisia, the spark that ignited the sweeping wave toward change, is erupting once more. This week, ruling Islamists rejected a plan for them to step down pending elections. Their move did little to calm the crisis, stirred since an opposition leader was assassinated in July.

Secularists are frustrated over the mismanaged economy and obvious government favoritism for hardline Islamists. Greg Musselman, a spokesman for the Voice of the Martyrs Canada, says, "At the same time, you've also got these militant Islamic groups that are talking about splitting the country into three sections of Islamic states."

The main trade union confederation had been leading the mediation efforts up till now. Their numbers are enough to bring Tunisia to a standstill. Thousands are protesting to pressure the government into accepting a compromise road map for ending months of deadlock. Musselman notes, "There had been talk that there would be compromise, and now they've kind of pulled that back. There's talk of elections that will take place with this government stepping down and having new elections, but then there's concern that they wouldn't really be all that fair."

The proposal calls for dialogue between the Islamist-led government and its secular opposition. It also sets a three-week deadline to build a cabinet of independents. A week after the new cabinet is called, that government must adopt a new electoral law, announce new elections, and finish drafting the new constitution.

Sadly, Tunisia is not unique as a survivor of its Arab Spring. Musselman explains that oddly, Egypt's stubbornness could be a lesson learned for Tunisia. "For the ruling party at this point to see what's happened in Egypt, they're trying to calculate, ‘How far do you push?' Do you really push hard and have the same thing happen that happened with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, or do you try to have some compromise?"

Many nations that were also caught up in revolution have less freedom and democracy than they did under the government that was removed. That's especially true for Christians. "If things continue to accelerate and the government becomes more and more Islamic, then it does put more pressure on the Christians either to go further underground...[or] run into some problems."

Although Egypt's Christians held their ground initially, Tunisia's Church doesn't have the numbers (about 24,000). If things get rough, Christians are nearly always singled out. Musselman urges, "Pray for our brothers and sisters in Tunisia that they can give the hope that many of these Muslims are not seeing and that they will also be strong and not be pushed into a corner where they would become irrelevant and not share the good news of Christ."

Ask God for real change. Pray that the barriers that have been built up against the Gospel in Tunisia will be broken.

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