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The Arabist: Of Tunisia and Egypt

Author: Ursula Lindsey
October 27, 2011

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Ursula Lindsey compares and contrasts the democratic transitions of Tunisia and Egypt, pointing out the challenges facing Egypt as Tunisian elections progress smoothly.

We were in Tunisia for nearly a week and it was impossible for me not to spend a lot of my time there making comparisons with Egypt.

It would be hard to find two more different countries than small, Francophone, organized, serious Tunisia and boisterous and chaotic Egypt, a cultural and intellectual hub of Arabism with a population eight times larger.

But the comparison between the two countries in the Arab world who, through peaceful demonstrations, overthrew their dictators, in nonetheless unavoidable. And, sadly, much to Egypt’s detriment.

One thing that was so moving in Tunisia was the sense of what dramatic and unhoped-for reversals have taken place there -- what true flips in power. Dissidents who had been completely marginalized and persecuted are now in government.

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