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Tunisia: An Arab Anomaly?

Chatham House, London


Professor Safwan Masri, Executive Vice President, Global Centers and Global Development, Columbia University
Chair: Jon Marks, Chairman and Founder, Cross-border Information


It has been six years since Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution: an event seen by most commentators as the beginning of the Arab Spring.

During the subsequent years, Tunisia’s fledgling democracy has passed a new, progressive constitution, held parliamentary elections and brought in the country’s first elected president, whereas many other post-Arab Spring countries across the region have experienced instability and conflict.

However, despite this important progress, Tunisia faces a number of critical economic and political problems including gradually integrating a prosperous coastal region with its poorer central regions.

What reforms might Tunisia’s coalition government seek to introduce to promote greater harmony and equality across the country? And in a time of growing threats from regional conflicts and terrorism, what can be done to ensure security in the country?

Drawing on his new book, Tunisia: An Arab Anomaly, Professor Safwan Masri examines the factors that contributed to Tunisia’s experience after the Arab Spring, focusing on the country’s history of reformism in the domains of education, religion and women’s rights.

Is Tunisia’s experience in recent years largely different to that of other Arab nations? If so, why? Or does it face the same challenges as its regional neighbours in rebuilding society?