“Now we are free so we are thinking so we are living”
Interview with Touhami Abdouli.
Abdouli Ph.D. (Cultural Anthroplolgy) is Professor at the Euromediterranean university in Slovenia and the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of Sousse, Tunisia. He is also the exterminal examiner of PHDs at westminster university, London, UK.
What do you think is the meaning of the first free democratic elections in Tunisia? How was the perceived mood at the eve of the vote within the population and at the political level?
Elections for Tunisian people mean two things: first it is a historical transition from being a flock of sheep dominated by the patron of sheep, restricted, jailed, harassed, suffocated for being real Citizens. Before the elections we were nothing, only people living their daily life without any goals. Our dreams were hijacked, our ambitions limited. I remember one day I told to a friend of mine “I do not think that I will be able to see a democratic regime before my death”. Now it is a reality. Am I still dreaming… please if I am dreaming wake me up? The second is the passage from dictatorship to freedom and rebuilding up the history. With Ben Ali we were living the freedom in side ourselves, in our souls. Now it is concretized. Before we were not free so we did not exist, now we are free so we are thinking so we are living.
After the election won by Ennahdha, a Constituent Assembly has been elected, in charge of preparing the Chart of the country. Which are the expectations of the citizens from this point of view? Which kind of values the Chart should sustain?
Let me adjust for you. Ennahdha did not win; it is in fact the biggest bloc which has seats, around 90 seats. It does not have majority. To have majority you have to have 109 seats. I draw the attentions of all observers that the participants in the elections were 46 per cent of the Tunisian citizens. So, 54 per cent did not participate so where are they? Definitely they are not with Ennahdha…these people represent the majority. We, as a democratic forum are asking for a government of a common national interest… and people are expecting this…the chart will be about how to provide tools to sustain democracy, freedom, equal opportunities and social equity… Who is going to govern is an archaic question and it is not a basic question, we are answering now how to govern democratically and be a model of models.
How the relationships with the western countries are going to change, with specific attention to the Mediterranean area? Which are the expectations on this new administration from this point of view?
Well, now we are equal partners, we are decision makers with our friends in EU. In the Mediterranean we are Mediterranean human beings and we will build the future together… Tunisian people were cosmopolitan and still they are… mutual understanding, respect, and transparency, these are the basic principles. What we need is to be interdependent not dependent. I see Tunisia as a part from the EU before Turkey. We are eligible by all means.
What will remain of the Ben Ali era in the hearts of the population?
Ben Ali had gone to the dust of history, what remains is the Great lesson: never to trust “stupid” people and “live freedom or die”. Actually we know what we want; we do not need to know who we want. This is the constructive thinking.