Cooperating modernities in Tunisia?

[This month’s post is being hosted by the Contending Modernities blog, a new project at the University of Notre Dame exploring modernity from Catholic, Muslim and Secular perspectives]

In April, Columbia political scientist Alfred Stepan came out with an article in the Journal of Democracy on “Tunisia’s Transition and the Twin Tolerations.” If the article is right, Tunisia’s secularists and Islamists are participating in an encouraging pattern of political cooperation that bodes well for the country’s democratic development. There is good reason to be hopeful about the relevance of an emerging “Tunisian model” of secular-Islamist negotiation, not only for Tunisia’s future but for all those countries affected by the Arab Spring. Yet there is also reason for caution… read full entry here

The Ennahda Effect?

[This month’s post is being hosted by the Contending Modernities blog, a new project at the University of Notre Dame exploring modernity from Catholic, Muslim and Secular perspectives]

Tunisia’s Islamist-oriented political party, Ennahda, appears to have won slightly more than 40% of the popular vote in constitutional assembly elections on October 30th, the first elections since protests there ignited the Arab Spring last January. In December 2010 and January 2011, in the first days following popular revolutions in Tunisia and then Egypt, commentators emphasized their non-religious nature and the central role that ideologically neutral, social-media-toting youths played in toppling authoritarian governments. So the impressive, outright electoral victory of a major, religious political party in “secular” Tunisia should give pause for reflection.

Two questions seem particularly important: 1) Why did Ennahda do so well?, and 2) What does their success say about the future of Islamist-oriented parties elsewhere in the region?

Read full entry here