Salafism, liberalism and democratic learning in Tunisia

Authors: Cavatorta, Francesco
Abstract: The article charts the rise of the jihadi Salafi movement in Tunisia during the transitional period and analyses the way in which the national attempt to construct a more liberal and democratic system influenced its internal dynamics and debate. It highlights in particular how democratic mechanisms and liberal norms being put in place in Tunisia impacted on the movement and how then this was reflected in its interactions with the other social and political actors in the system. The unique Tunisian environment in which democratic mechanisms and individual liberal freedoms were introduced immediately after the revolution led the jihadi Salafi movement to operate through contradictory behaviour and actions in a process of what can be called ‘stop-start’ democratic learning, which ultimately failed. The novelty of the political arrangements was beneficial to jihadi Salafism initially, as the new liberal environment allowed it to proselytise and organise in the open while railing against democracy and liberalism. In doing so they unwillingly contributed to strengthen the consensus of political actors on the necessity to build a democratic system. However, under the weight of this contradictory attitude, the movement ended up threatening the transition and failed to integrate.
Document Type: Article de recherche
Issue Date: 12 September 2015
Open Access Date: Restricted access
Document version: VoR
This document was published in: Journal of North African Studies, Vol. 20 (5), 770–783 (2015)
Frank Cass
Alternative version: 10.1080/13629387.2015.1081464
Collection:Articles publiés dans des revues avec comité de lecture

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