The Fruits of Tunisia’s Uprising: An Extraordinary Constitution

 

Tunisia_Constitution

The Fruits of Tunisia’s Uprising: An Extraordinary Constitution

By Garibaldi

Before the Arab Uprisings a narrative almost as well known as Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was indoctrinated into the minds of many US and European citizens; the claim that Arabs and Muslims were inclined to tyranny and dictatorship. Columnist David Brooks of the New York Times encapsulated this frame of mind, about Egyptians he wrote, “they don’t have the mental ingredients for democracy.”

Islamophobes were appalled by the uprisings which saw their myths and prejudices regarding “subservient” Arabs and Muslims who either “only know dictatorship or theocracy” fall apart. Bigots such as Deacon Spencer were quick to claim that these nations would quickly be living inIranian-style theocracies.

While the uprisings and revolutions have faltered or are continuing at varied paces in most of the nations that have seen uprisings, the country that birthed the momentous wave of protest and upheaval, Tunisia, has achieved a tremendous milestone: a Constitution through consensus and hard, political work.

Tunisia was well placed for this achievement, considering its history of Constitutionalism,

Tunisia was the first Arab country ever to draft its own constitution – the qanoon al-dawla al-tunisiyya, or ‘law of the Tunisian state’ – which came into force in 1861.”

The process took two years, every jot and tittle was fought over and at times the impasse between the secularist opposition and the Ennahda led government seemed to be teetering on the brink of disaster and all out chaos: a happy prospect for those who have a seething hate for Arabs, Muslims and Islam and cheer on whenever they see disorder.

The naysayers were disappointed when the Ennahda led coalition and Nida Tounes negotiated a deal under the auspices of civil society organizations that paved the way for: a resignation of the government, a completion to the Constitution and an interim care-taker government of technocrats until fresh elections will be held later this year.

So what happened when Tunisia passed its constitution? Wallah! The praise has come in from all quarters: The New York TimesFrance24The EconomistThe Washington PostFox News, etc. had forgotten their age old prejudices and “congratulated” Tunisians.

Equally as important as the Constitution is to Tunisians it is also an example to the nations in the region. It shows that if one is ready to negotiate, compromise, to see beyond the simplistic demonizations of one’s opponent, you can overcome religious, ethnic, ideological and political divisions.

The outcome is a document that the vast majority of Tunisians have unanimously accepted and, crucially, has popular legitimacy.

The document isn’t perfect and contains some self-contradictions that highlight fissures and insecurities in Tunisian society. For instance what does it mean to protect ‘freedom of conscience and speech’ and at the same time outlaw takfir (declaring a Muslim to be a non-Muslim)? What does it mean for the state to ensure the “neutrality of mosques” and “protect sanctities?”

On the other hand it is a document that is confident in its identity, history and heritage, enshrines freedom of religion, conscience, individual rights, minority rights, gender parity, and a separation of powers.

It rivals any constitution in ambition and scope, and is more progressive in several ways than our own 226 year-old US Constitution that still contains outdated language stating for instance that slaves are the equivalent of “3/5ths” of a full vote. A few years ago the Congressional reading of the Constitution omitted this section which caused some right-wingers, like Glenn Beck, to throw a fit. Maybe it’s time we had another Constitutional convention ourselves?

The future for Tunisia is still wide open and by no means have Tunisians arrived at a moment in which the aims of their uprising have been fully realized,

Measured against the aims of the revolution, the constitution can be said to have met a number of key expectations. But for those in the marginalized parts of the country, seeking tangible improvement in their social and economic situation, the constitution is not going to do that-not immediately at least-and, in truth, does not guarantee it on the long-run. The state, in Article 12, promises no more than “striving to,” rather than the much demanded “commits to” achieve regional balance within the framework of positive discrimination.

The hope is that the spirit of negotiation, determination and compromise will continue until those aims are reached. However, what can be said is that despite tremendous pressures from the West, regional neighbors and fissures within Tunisian society, Tunisians have made it happen — and that is something not only to congratulate but to emulate.

Video: Tunisia Gets New Constitution

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson: “Wherever Women are Taking Over, Evil Reigns”

Rev.Jesse_Lee_Peterson_Women_evilRev. Jesse Lee Peterson

by Emperor

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson is a regular guest on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program and is usually brought in to be the token Black man who comes on to legitimate and provide cover for Hannity’s “criticism” (i.e. thinly-veiled racism) of the Black community. Hannity also happens to sit on the board of Rev. Peterson’s organization, BOND. (h/t: Ali)

Rev. Peterson is quite the kook, and of course every religion has ‘em, but here he is bemoaning the progress women have made in the US, saying all of the social ills we have today are due to women:

So I guess Conservatives don’t just believe in the “Islamization” of society, but also the “womenization” of society?

As you can see he wants women to be stripped of the right to vote, taken out of positions of power and essentially returned to being obedient, child producing, housewives who obey and submit to men. He even ridicules his grandmother!

Can one imagine the reaction if an Imam had said something similar to what Rev. Peterson said? Wouldn’t Islam once again be cast as the uniquely and inherently “misogynistic” faith that is irreconcilable with modernity?

Will we hear similar attributions of misogyny and anti-women positions to Christianity now?

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, along with Robert Spencer also happen to be on the list of the Young America’s Foundation‘s (YAF) “Conservative speakers.”

Spencer has appeared as a guest on Rev. Peterson’s radio show, directly after Peterson’s anti-women screed. There goes Spencer and Geller’s so-called concern for the ‘human rights’ of women! They have no problem schmoozing with clerics who want to role back the right of women to vote but will gladly try to smear Muslims as honor-killing-pro-pedophilia-misogynists:

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Sexist Sermon: ‘Greatest Mistake America Made Was Allowing Women To Vote’ [VIDEO]

by Jacob Kleinman (ibitimes)

Frequent Fox News guest Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson drew sharp criticism for arguing that women should not have the right to vote in a sermon that was posted on YouTube in March. The minister argued that women are destroying American society and wield too much political power.

Fox News host Sean Hannity has invited Peterson to speak on his show several times, even after the offensive sermon was posted online.

Even News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch, corporate master of Fox, disagreed with Peterson’s sexist rant according to theDaily Mail. He tweeted in response, “When? Women voting is best thing in a hundred years.”

“I think that one of the greatest mistakes America made was to allow women the opportunity to vote,” Peterson said in the sermon.

Peterson even went so far as to associate woman in politics with evil.

“We should’ve never turned this over to women,” he said. “It was a big mistake. … And these women are voting in the wrong people. They’re voting in people who are evil who agrees (sic) with them who’re going to take us down this pathway of destruction.”

“And this probably was the reason that they didn’t allow women to vote when men were men,” he continued. “Because men, in the good old days, understood the nature of the woman. They were not afraid to deal with it and they understood that if they let them take over, this is what would happen.”

This is not Peterson’s first controversial and offensive statement. He previously said “thank God for slavery” because it brought African people to the United States.

Peterson has also stated, “Barack Obama hates white people, especially white men.” He argued that men should be legally permitted to hit their wives and expressed a desire to take “all black people back to the South and put them on the plantation so they would understand the ethic of working.”

During his most recent offensive statement, the sermon titled “How most women are building a shameless society,” he said women are incapable of making good decisions because they get too emotional.

“You walk up to them with an issue, they freak out right away,” he said. “They go nuts. They get mad. They get upset, just like that. They have no patience because it’s not in their nature. They don’t have love.”

Peterson appeared on Fox News last week after being invited again by Sean Hannity, and was confronted by Democratic commentator Kirsten Power, who called the sermon “misogynistic.”

“I have a responsibility to tell the truth,” replied Peterson. “You’re on the side of lies. Why shouldn’t I be on the side of truth? And it’s the truth that’s going to make us free. Somebody gotta tell the truth, so I’m going to tell the truth.”

Peterson is the president and founder of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny, a group pushing a conservative agenda among African Americans where Hannity sits on the board, and its allied BOND Action Inc. In the past he has hosted a radio talk show and a cable TV program. He is well known for fighting against affirmative action and is a member of Choose Black American, a black group fighting illegal immigration.

Originally posted on What if they were Muslim?