Tidbits of Arabic News translated into English

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Tunisia's shiny new Constitution

(January 27, 2014)

'Destour' is the Arabic word for Constitution, and right now it is the only word on the street in Tunisia. Tunisia just ratified a Constitution with equal rights for all, men and women, and judging from the BBC Arabic interviews and features, most everyone is very happy about it.

The BBC Arabic had a regular story about the new Constitution that played every half an hour or so. It was one of the top stories, but I don't remember if it was the very top. After all, the Syrian negotiations were happening at the same time.

Aside from that, the BBC Arabic also did interviews with Tunisians, devoted a call-in show to Tunisia, did an in-depth hour-long analysis with Tunisian experts, and probably some other things as well.

This is the Tunisian president or prime minister or someone announcing the final agreement and ratification. They are calling it the "first constitution in the Arab world." There's a nice ring to that! Except it's not really the first ... Tunisia itself had a constitution under its former dictator. But then again, a constitution under a dictator probably doesn't count!

 All the politicians in the Parliament rose up, grabbed hands and flags, and started singing the national anthem! Well, and they have something to be proud of!

Then all the politicians abandoned their orderly pews and started hugging and kissing ...

This man says: I never felt Tunisia as one until today. I never felt Tunisia to be as happy as she is today, and inshallah this will lead to lots of ... [lists an assortment of good stuff!]

 At a later point, the BBC Arabic collected reactions from random people on the Tunisian street:
 This man says: I am so proud! (and he looks it.)

 This lady says: I have faith in my country and in the youth of my country.

 This man says: I am filled with joy.

 This man said: when I heard of the news, I started crying and drowning in love for my people and country. [I mean, I never knew an Arab man could admit to crying, so I might have heard or recorded this part wrong.]

 This lady really did start crying, right on the camera. She said a lot of things, of which I caught: now no one will be afraid and we will all be one left hand and one right hand joined together as one hand.

This lady says: We are suffering from unemployment and rising prices. Inshallah the Destour will help.

Then, one of the BBC Arabic presenters traveled to Tunisia to host a discussion with Tunisian youth. So that tells you how special the moment was, because usually Samir Farah doesn't travel anywhere. Usually, he holds his discussions in Great Britain (where the BBC Arabic studio is located.)

This man says: both the Nahda (the ruling party which is kind of Islamic) and the opposition (which is more liberal) compromised. I think he was saying that both sides gave in a little, in order to find a happy middle ground. That's beautiful!

 This lady says: through this process, we've learned to listen to others' opinions and to respect what others have to say.

This lady works for Human Rights Watch in Tunisia. She says: the Destour is a shared Destour between all Tunisians, and its passage shows the good level of maturity, intelligence, and sense in the Tunisian society.

This man is married to a lady who holds a Parliamentary seat. I don't know what he said, but he supports his wife.

I think he spoke up when the conversation turned to how many women are in the Tunisian parliament, and in general what the new constitution will mean for women.

I don't know all the details, but the Tunisian constitution is supposed to be very progressive for women, especially relative to other Arab countries. But when Samir Farah asked, "who here is happy with the outcome for women in the constitution?" only the girl in the white knit hat above raised her hand.

 Then there was a fight! The guy in the striped shirt and with the idiotically raised hands started yelling at the girl standing in the back, with the pinkish scarf. 

 He's the only one who had to raise his voice during the whole discussion. What a loser. And I don't even know what he was yelling about: just something about 'chapter six', your conscience, and who was beating up whom. 

So I guess not everything is perfect in Tunisia even now, but at least there's lots of happy people and bet they are going to make us all proud ('us' meaning those of us who are not fortunate enough to come from Arab countries with acceptable levels of maturity, intelligence, and sense!)

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