Tunisia emerged from the so-called Arab Spring not only the first to shake off a corrupt, authoritarian regime, but also the principal country to find success in the transition to democratic, pluralistic governance. The Nobel Committee recognized this when awarding the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet this year’s Peace Prize, in which they noted that the country “has seen a democratic transition based on a vibrant civil society with demands for respect for basic human rights.”
I was lucky to visit Tunis last May as part of World Press Freedom Day and meet with journalists, activists and government officials working toward a democratic Tunisia that respects rights to freedom of opinion and expression. The pressures are many. Unemployment remains high, ISIS aims to recruit, and terrible terrorist attacks took place this year at the Bardo Museum and the beach in Sousse. It’s thus something to be celebrated when activists continue to push for access to information, a free press, and journalist safety, all of which are crucial to Tunisia’s transition.
Civil society met again in Tunis on November 2nd to mark the International Day to End Impunity for Attacks on Journalists. I added my support and encouragement in a video message, which follows here, notwithstanding the poor productions values that I can muster from my home in California.