Thursday, December 8, 2011

News Update: A Rocky Road Ahead

The news took over this week.


      Concerning the Arab Revolution, there is some good news. Yemen’s dictator Salah finally negotiated with the opposition parties to leave power and the country. OK, so he’s gone. Problem: his family and the whole power structure remain in place. Elections have been promised in two months, however, if the current government runs those elections, then nothing much will change. The people have not bought it and continue to protest and civilians continue to die everyday. It’s a rocky road ahead.
       Dozens of Syrian civilians also continue to die everyday while peaceful protests continue. Unfortunately, the US government may attempt to weigh in on the side of the revolution in order to maintain influence in the region, giving the revolution a bad name (messy politics in this part of the world). Hard to predict the outcome. I salute the courage of the Syrian people. It’s a rocky road ahead.
       Egyptians protested in Tahrir Square once again to oust the prime minister, viewed as a Mubarak supporter. So the ruling military council (which basically has a death grip on the country) named another prime minister who had served in the Mubarak government—unacceptable in the eyes of protesters, as one might imagine. In the meantime, Egyptians elected a parliamentary assembly to formulate a new constitution. However, the military council intends to have the final say on any proposed constitution. The military council (Mubarak’s cohorts) obviously wants to keep power, influence, and wealth. It’s a rocky road ahead.
      The new transitional Libyan government is having difficulties bringing armed groups under control and collecting weapons, while trying to form a new army. Tripoli is under lockdown and militia groups have been asked to return home. Armed groups have attempted to cross the border into Tunisia and when refused, have been known to open fire on authorities. Tunisians living in towns along the Libyan border, the very people who opened their homes to Libyan refugees, appear to be fed up with the lawlessness that war has unleashed. Tunisian authorities have closed the border until the Libyan government can send competent authorities to control the situation.
       Members of Tunisia’s constitutional assembly seem to have forgotten that their role is to write a new constitution. A tug of war has developed as certain groups demand a “piece of the cake” in the new government. In the meantime, the Central Bank has issued warnings that the country is on the brink of bankruptcy and protests continue to cripple the economy. Liquid bottled gas, which many people use to cook and heat, has become scarce as temperatures drop.
       As if there weren’t enough urgent problems, a university in Tunis closed temporarily because bearded men beseiged it, demanding that women students wear a “niqab” (black fabric covering the head and face) if they wanted to take their exams. I would first comment that I have nothing against women who choose to “veil”, that is, wear a headscarf and modest clothing if that is their choice. One’s clothing should not get in the way of attending school, voting, working, or anything else for that matter. However, attacking university women and imposing a way of dress—which has no foundation in Tunisian tradition, by the way (this comes from the Gulf)—impinges on women’s rights. History shows that the attack upon women is not a question of religion (Islam preaches moderation), but rather a bid for power that makes use of women as pawns. Why don’t they go and empty the numerous bars of drunken men? It seems these men perceive university women not only as a threat but  the “weakest link” as well. Economic and social classes also enter into the question, as new groups struggle to fill the power vacuum and push aside established upper and middle classes.

       And I would venture to guess that Tunisia is doing better than anybody else. 
Indeed, it’s a rocky road ahead.

25 comments:

Rachaeldaisy said...

A rocky road indeed!

Carole said...

What can I say? Men have always been afraid of women so they continually control and abuse them. Yes, it's a rocky road ahead.

Sujata said...

Dear Nadia,

This blog post reminds me of history lessons I had growing up. Unfortunately, some parts of the world hasn't changed much with time.

It sure sounds like turbulent times up ahead.

Mary Zeran said...

Hello , Like so many of your posts...at first I laughed. The quilt had such a childlike approach. Almost like a 8 year old boy drew it from is imagination but, then the text below was so different. It isn't funny, it is serious and certainly not child's play. As always thanks for keeping us posted about what is going on in your world. Be strong!

My husband brought home some locally grown honey and I thought of you.

Connie Rose said...

Oy. Be well, my friend.

Roxanne said...

The world is full of uncertainty these days. May safety be your constant companion.

Kelli said...

Prayers for you and all involved. Be safe and thanks for keeping us updated.

Nifty Quilts said...

It is interesting to hear this from a resident's point of view. Wishing you all safety and peace.

Teodo said...

Dear Nadia, it is really interesting to read about life in Tunisia, especially from your point of view as a resident.
I hope you'll be able to write soon that everyone - all women, men and children - are free to do what they prefer.
ciao ciao linda

Ellen said...

Goed voor ons om jouw verhaal te lezen.Veel sterkte en maak mooie kunstwerken ,ik geniet van je blog
Groet Ellen

Susan said...

I am so happy to hear your account of the situation, in Syria, Egypt and Libya. I'm appalled at the attack on the women students, particularly. Limiting women's career and educational opportunities always seems to be a central to these political struggles. Women must stay together and resist.

This is my first visit to your blog, and I am so pleased to find you are a political writer and artist

Bonnie Hull said...

Fascinating, tragic, unsettling. I like hearing your view. Keep us posted. xo

quilteuseforever said...

Merci Nadia. En France, la situation de la Tunisie et de la Lybie ne font plus recette, nous avons nos propres soucis avec l'Europe...
Cette volonté d'imposer aux femmes des traditions d'ailleurs est incompréhensible. C'est avec les femmes qu'un pays peut se moderniser, avec elles qu'on éduque les enfants...
Bravo pour tes multi-facettes, artistiques,journalistiques, politiques...
Good luck my friend.

Mary Keasler said...

It is so interesting to hear from you as a resident. As for the men in that part of the world, some things never seem to change. I hope you and all the other women are able to conquer this rocky road.

aracne said...

Very interesting, we are not far but we hear very little of what is happening on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea, concentrated as we are on the European (and Italian)problems.
The trend to limit women's freedom is quite disturbing, considering that we have so many muslim people in our country now who could influence our males. Our men could start thinking that they want their power back and put women in the kitchen again...

MulticoloredPieces said...

Thank you one and all for your encouraging and kind comments. I would like to reiterate that the problems facing Tunisians are not so much about religion as about economic, social and political factors. For example, it would be unfair to say that all Muslims are conservative when in fact there is an international current of conservatism that affects women everywhere. I would suggest reading "The Mommy Myth" by Susan Douglas and Meredith Michaels which is one of my favorite books. It puts issues about women's status into perspective and with humor. But your fears are justified in this sense, dear Aracne--women must always be vigilant about protecting their rights!

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Amanda said...

Thank you for posting about this. I don't even remember where I found your blog-probably somewhere along a line of clicking links from various other blogs. I don't really keep up with the news much, other than on FB when my friends post about these things. Even so, I don't think there is a lot about this in the news here in the US. Even if I did read about it, I wouldn't trust the news on tv or in the newspaper here anyway, since they tend to be so biased and skewed.

Kathryn said...

What a powerful post! And powerful work coming from it. I look forward to digging more through your blog and seeing what life is like in Tunisia. Where on the west coast are you from? What a change!

Vivian said...

As I sit in my comfortable little home, enjoying my freedom and all those things that I take for granted, your post is appreciated. Your perspective and thoughts remind me how lucky am I.
Prayers and positive thoughts sent from me to those who are challenged with protecting their rights and to those who live with economic, social, and political unrest in their lives.

Melly Testa said...

GREAT blog Nadia. So glad you and I have begun to communicate. I will be back.

Radka said...

Very interesting post, thank you for that. I have been following the news from your part of the world, but of course it is not in depth, so it is interesting to get it from someone closer to where it happens.

Good Earth Quilting said...

From my home in Canada, I am very interested to hear your perspective from being there and seeing things that are not on the top of headlines anymore, sadly this is true...
But alas, we are women all over the world and we hear and see the stories meaningful to other around the world, thank you Nadia!
Blessings!

Alicia said...

Please be safe! Happy new Year!