Tunisia. Police hit several times during the year along
with people suspected of being militant Islamists. In
January, twelve people were killed - according to the
government terrorists - in fighting four miles south of the
capital Tunis. Fifteen people were arrested. In April, about
1,000 people in the past two years were reportedly arrested
in Tunisia for terrorist offenses. According to
CountryAAH, a number of Islamists
were said to have been convicted during the year, but the
reporting on this was scarce and reached the outside world
mainly through Arabic-speaking media abroad. Three people,
who were extradited from Syria in 2005, were reportedly
sentenced in May to up to eleven years in prison for
attempting to join militant Islamist groups in Iraq.
Seven Tunisian fishermen were arrested in August on the
Italian island of Lampedusa suspected of human smuggling.
The seven had rescued 44 African refugees and landed them on
the island. The fish were released after a month but were
later prosecuted in the fall.
Contemporary History of Tunisia
Tunisia's contemporary history encompasses the period
from 1956, which was the year Tunisia became an independent
state. The independence was introduced after a transitional
period of direct autonomy, as a result of an agreement with
the colonial power France from the previous year.
After independence there followed a long period of
political stability under the "country father", the far-away
monarchical president Habib Bourguiba. After he was deposed
in 1987, liberalization took place under the successor,
General Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. The great upheaval in
modern Tunisian history came at the turn of the year
2010/11, when a popular uprising pushed the president from
power and started a real democratization process. The
rebellion in Tunisia was also the start of the Arab Spring.
In 2015, the Tunisian Quartet for National Dialogue was
awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its role as a conflict
mediator and driving force in the democracy process in the
Tunisia became an independent state on March 20, 1956,
with Tahar ben Ammar of Nouveau party libéral
constitutionnel (Arabic: l-Ḥizb Al-Ḥurr Ad-Dustūrī
Al-Jadīd), best known as Néo-Destour, as prime
minister. On March 25 elections were held for a
constitutional assembly, in which all the mandates went to a
list dominated by Néo-Destour and the trade union
organization Union Générale des Travailleurs Tunisia
(UGTT). A new government led by Habib Bourguiba as prime
minister was deployed.
In July 1957, the National Assembly decided to abolish
the monarchy, and the last ruler, Lamine Bey, was deposed.
Bourguiba became president and head of state, as well as
prime minister. Formally speaking, Tunisia became a republic
only after the new constitution came into force in 1959. It
gave the president extensive power.
The French forces in Tunisia were to be gradually
withdrawn, but France refused to make a full withdrawal due
to the deteriorating situation in Algeria. After French
aircraft bombed Tunisian border villages, Tunisia broke
diplomatic relations and demanded full French withdrawal,
which was met, with the exception of the base in Bizerte. In
July 1961, with the support of the UN, Tunisia again
demanded that France leave the Bizerte base and surround it.
This led to fighting action; the French forces took control
of the base and the city of Bizerte, and only after the
ceasefire in Algeria did France abandon it.
Low participation in several areas during the 1956
elections showed that there was still opposition to
Bourguiba's wing within Néo-Destour, after defeating the
more radical Salah Ben Yusuf prior to independence. And
still there was a fellow militia active in support
of Ben Yusuf. Bourguiba called for help from French forces
still stationed in the country to defeat them, which
succeeded in June 1956. Ben Yusuf went into exile in Egypt
in 1957, where he was assassinated in 1961. In a court
settlement, a number of Tunisians were convicted of
cooperating with the colonial power, politically or