Amid a series of setbacks for pluralism and citizen rights in the Middle East, Tunisia has again provided a positive example for the region. In a landmark step, the country’s Islamic and secular political forces reached agreement on a constitution that embraces equal rights and provides a foundation for Tunisia’s transition to democracy. But while progress has been made, the country still faces serious economic and political challenges, as well as simmering ideological tensions and the rise of radical Salafism.
Rached Ghannouchi, co-founder and president of Tunisia’s Ennahda Party, gave an address on what lies ahead for his country. Carnegie’s Marwan Muasher moderated the discussion.
Rached Ghannouchi co-founded the Ennahda Movement, an Islamist group that is currently Tunisia’s largest political party and the dominant participant in a coalition that has governed the country since the October 2011 elections. After spending more than two decades in exile for his political activism, Ghannouchi returned to Tunisia in January 2011 to participate in the country’s democratic transition. Widely recognized as one of the world’s most influential Islamic thinkers, he was named one of TIME’s one hundred most influential people in the world in 2012.
Marwan Muasher is vice president for studies at Carnegie, where he oversees research in Washington and Beirut on the Middle East. Muasher served as foreign minister (2002–2004) and deputy prime minister (2004–2005) of Jordan, and his career has spanned the areas of diplomacy, development, civil society, and communications.