« Not for fame, not for nikah, not for fun », once tweeted a female ISIS member called Shams . Women have long been valued fighters in liberation movements and other politically motivated armed guerilla warfares, but recently a new troubling form of women’s political militantism has emerged and raises a serious question: Why would women eagerly join a violent terrorist movement that is strongly patriarchal, misogynistic and moreover profoundly disregards their dignity as human beings? Understanding why women have joined ISIS is essential if we want to create effective prevention and reintegration programs.
The legal framework governing associations is high on the reforms agenda, at least according to a meeting held by Mehdi Ben Gharbia and a group of legal experts in February. The initiative echoes a recent Financial Action Task Force evaluation in which Tunisia was knocked down a grade for its non-profit sector. And while the fight against money laundering and terrorism is the government’s key argument when it comes to reforming legislation on associations, the proposed amendments, in parallel with the demonization of certain associations, portend rights violations and a gradual lockdown of the sector.
46 Groups, Celebrities, Cartoonists Press for Rights-Respecting Approach
Comparing the nature of political discourse and media response in the US and Tunisia following such tragedies reveals key debates that have been stirred up in each country, as well as some fundamental commonalities; namely, failure to face the underlying, internal factors that fuel terrorism.
In seamless consistency with the government’s response to the Bardo and Sousse attacks in March and June, official discourse, superficial security measures, and the actions of security forces since last Tuesday’s tragedy reflect the absence of a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy and have kept alive the notion that effective security requires the relinquishing of certain rights and liberties.
Nearly five years into the democratic work in progress and in the immediate wake of a bomb explosion that killed 12 in the capital, demands for and promises of US support for the Arab Spring’s sole success appear increasingly tired and misguided.
Informal commerce is not limited to one category of merchandise, one geographic region, one demographic; trafficked items include weapons, food products, and gasoline and circulate the country via markets in Ben Guerdane, Kasserine, Sfax, Tunis; smugglers range from merchants of little means to prominent businessmen who are comparatively economically resilient and more likely to withstand trade restrictions imposed at the borders. For many smugglers of lesser means, survival depends upon their ability to navigate a political vision and legal framework which serve neither to sustain nor protect them.
…Everyone, it seemed, was talking about the wall, a trench-lined sand barricade that is to stretch some 200 kilometers along Tunisia’s border with Libya. In the capital, a world away from the country’s borders, conversations are based on hear-say, rumors, and speculation. Approbation, uncertainty, suspicion…the sentiments provoked are varied, though many remain simply baffled at the belated unveiling and precipitous construction of the government’s latest counterterrorism mechanism, a wall between Tunisia and its neighbor to the south-east.
The facts are clear. The trial concerning the assassination of Chokri Belaid has been deferred, not a single terrorist crime has been tried, and the attack in Sousse has exposed security and political failures. Four years after the Rouhia case, it seems that the more insecurity has grown, the more opaque the security institution has become.