The flag of Tunisia. By gablackburn, Flickr.

By Islam El Shazly

Since Tunisia gained independence from France and it has been known all over the world as a beacon of freedom and economic stability in the Arab world; it was more liberal than Lebanon and with a stability that Lebanon cannot achieve in the near future.

But that was an illusion, the “freedom” that Tunisia enjoyed was not real. The stability it revelled in masked a different reality. When France moved out, they left behind a group of people bred to rule in favour of their masters in Paris.

The remarkably well preserved Roman amphitheater at El Jem, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Tunis was home to the Carthaginians, they gave Rome hell, until the Romans nearly erased them from history. The Muslim armies of conquest conquered Tunis late in the 7th century CE, where they built the city of Qairouan, and erected what would be the second Masjid in Africa after the Masjid of Amro Ibn Al-‘Aas in Egypt, the Great Masjid of Qairouan, built in 50 AH / 670 CE by the Arab general Uqba Ibn Nafi.

The Great Masjid of Qairouan. By Alexandre Moreau, Flickr.

The country prospered under Muslim rule until it was seized by France in 1881 CE, the French did their best to weed out any Islamic roots or tendencies in the Tunisian people, and when they failed to do so, they left the task to the puppets they left in power, Habib Bourguiba and later Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. They did a marvellous job.

The Gulf of Tinis and the Port of Sidi Bou Saïd.

In their time freedom was redefined, it was no longer the Islamic concept of freedom, it became the French concept of freedom, and backed by the military they forced their own rules. They were ruthless in the means they chose to enforce these rules. The west turned a blind eye to their actions because they fear the possibility of an Islamic government more than they care about “human rights”.

A young man, someone’s son, someone’s father, someone’s brother, got to a point of desperation that he burned himself alive*. His actions sparked a nation-wide riot that saw more than 60 people dying at the hands of the security forces, and culminated in fleeing of Ben Ali out of the country.

Sarkozy refused entry to France for Ben Ali – when the puppets are no longer useful, the masters throw them in the trash, a friend of mine eloquently said on Twitter @avinunu.

The videos below, both of the same man, show exactly how the Tunisian people feel. We feel the same.

A lot of people are sceptical about Tunisia’s future, and whether it will recover properly from this month’s events. They shouldn’t, only Allah knows what this will lead to. The Tunisians turned the table on every Arab leader and surprised the world.

For now, Tunis is finally free.

* Please note that suicide is Haraam (forbidden) in Islam, it is absolutely not permissible. That means that under no circumstances, no matter how dire they are, is anyone allowed to take their own life, because that means they despaired from Allah’s mercy. Please refer to the following link for more about the Islamic view and ruling on suicide: http://www.islamqa.com/en/ref/70363/suicide

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