Tags: Emerging Threats | ISIS/Islamic State | Middle East | Tunisia | jihadists | ISIS | extremism

With New Freedoms, Young in Tunisia Turn to ISIS

By    |   Wednesday, 22 October 2014 07:52 AM

Of the Middle East countries convulsed by the Arab Spring, Tunisia is considered the singular, democratic success — which is why a turn toward extremism among the country's youth is particularly troubling.

Tunisia, in North Africa, is where the Arab Spring began in December 2010. The country remains in transition with an interim government that has promised elections. New freedoms and a constitution are in place. Its population of 11 million is relatively educated and sophisticated, according to The New York Times.

The parliament is led by Ennahda, a moderate Islamist party.

The comparative freedoms that Tunisians enjoy have paradoxically fueled support for Islamist extremism and driven thousands of young people to take up arms with the Islamic State (ISIS), the Times reported.

An estimated 3,000 Tunisians are now fighting in Iraq and Syria — more than from any other country. Some 400 who have returned have been arrested,  the Times said.

Political liberalization has not improved economic conditions and many educated young people have either settled for menial jobs or are unemployed. At the same time, the relative freedom has allowed extremist preachers to sermonize and conscript followers among discontented young adults, the Times reported.

They see an Islamic Caliphate as offering a messianic solution to the troubles of the Arab world. "The Islamic State is a true caliphate, a system that is fair and just, where you don't have to follow somebody's orders because he is rich or powerful," an anonymous young ISIS supporter told the Times. "It is action, not theory, and it will topple the whole game."

As young ISIS supporters in Tunisia see it, European-imposed borders will disappear throughout the region, oil wealth will be redistributed, social justice will prevail, and the promises of the Koran will be fulfilled. Even many who are not strictly religious say that they would be better off under Sharia law.

They say the turmoil now roiling the Arab world is a sign of the prophesized apocalypse that will herald a new caliphate, the Times reported.

"We have been told in the sayings of the Prophet that this is going to happen soon," a young man calling himself Ahmed told the Times.

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Of the Middle East countries convulsed by the Arab Spring, Tunisia is considered the singular, democratic success - which is why a turn toward extremism among the country's youth is particularly troubling.
Tunisia, jihadists, ISIS, extremism, Arab Spring
361
2014-52-22
Wednesday, 22 October 2014 07:52 AM
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