n Africa Conflict Monthly Monitor - Anti-terror laws in Tunisia : a struggle to balance authoritarian past with democratic future : North Africa - issue in focus - : North Africa - issue in focus

Volume 2013, Issue 02
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In a post-911 world, the subject of terrorism and how to counter terrorism has been a subject of almost obsessive international concern. Often anti-terror legislation is used to suppress democratic forces within a state, with the most notorious example being apartheid South Africa. With more than 100 detainees in custody, the Tunisian Ennahda (Renaissance)-led government has announced that it will use the controversial 2003 Anti-terror legislation to charge protestors; the same legislation that was used by the former dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali to oppress Ennahda. Two detainees have already died in custody from a hunger strike protesting their detention and accusing the Tunisian Government of victimising Islamic organisations. In determining whether counter-terrorist legislation is effective in dealing with terrorism in a post-9/11 context, states generally have three options: (1) to proclaim current legislation sufficient; (2) introduce more comprehensive or specific and targeted anti-terror acts; and, (3) to use repressive actions. The current anti-terror legislation as employed in Tunisia uses both targeted anti-terror acts by alienating Islamic organisations and repressive measures. Whilst violence cannot be tolerated, there is a strong need to revisit a dialogue with the more extremist Islamic factions, considering the Ennahda-led moderate Islamic political party in power in Tunisia.

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