Béji Caïd Essebsi

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Tunisians voters line up at a polling station in Menzeh, near Tunis, in 2011. (Amine Landoulsi/Associated Press)

Amid the turmoil that so often dominates the headlines, it can be tempting to think that all of North Africa and the Middle East is gripped by disorder. But in Tunisia, where the Arab Spring began, democracy and pluralism are taking root.

Our meeting at the White House Thursday — the first between a U.S. president and a democratically elected Tunisian president — will be an opportunity to mark Tunisia’s progress and deepen the partnership between our nations to help Tunisia’s new democracy deliver the greater prosperity and security that its citizens deserve.

More than four years after a young street vendor, Mohammed Bouazizi, set himself on fire to protest the daily humiliations of an oppressive government, sparking the protests that ended decades of dictatorship, Tunisia shows that democracy is not only possible but also necessary in North Africa and the Middle East.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tunisia’s extraordinary political experience since the Arab Spring stands as a testimony to the openness, tolerance and moderation that Tunisians owe to their 3,000-year history as a Mediterranean state crisscrossed by invaders, traders and missionaries of all kinds.

It was trade and exchange with Europe — in particular, with France and Italy, Tunisia’s closest Mediterranean neighbors — that opened the country to the Enlightenment. Sadiki College, established in the 19th century, provided a strong bilingual education for the country’s elite: the modern sciences were taught in French, Arab history and Islamic heritage in Arabic. The leaders who built the postcolonial state after securing Tunisia’s independence from France in 1956 were largely Sadiki alumni.…  Seguir leyendo »