While attention is on Egypt, another country is also facing monumental change in government. Tunisia's revolution was in the news but has been eclipsed by the Egyptian protests. Some of the interesting differences between the 2 revolutions are pointed out by Ekklesia and NPR. Ekklesia discusses the role of non-violence and NPR, the role of women:
Ekklesia refers to a discussion on AltMuslim:
AltMuslim, a very stimulating US/UK website that offers global perspectives on Muslim life, politics and culture, has been reflecting on some of the lessons of the largely unarmed revolution in Tunisia last month (January 2011).
What Mas'ood Cajee writes in his inspiring '10 lessons from our Tunisian brothers & sisters' is pretty much exactly what we would also want to say on Ekklesia, from a Christian perspective.
1. Courage trumps tyranny. It just needs to be nurtured and kindled.
2. An authoritarian police state is no match for nonviolent people power. Ordinary people can change their own situation.
3. Expect no support from the “international community.” In fact, at best, expect ambivalence and a steady supply of tear gas canisters.
4. Change can occur without strapping explosives to torsos or vehicles, without bombs or bullets.
5. Change isn’t easy or free. The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of martyrs, as Thomas Jefferson once said.
6. Once fear of the tyrant and his minions is removed from the hearts of the people, the game is up.
7. Once the tipping point comes, once the paradigm shift occurs, things change rapidly and suddenly. The mighty will fall quickly. The tiger, you will find out, was made of paper after all.
8. You don’t have to wait for a Great Leader. You don’t have to wait for the Messiah. You don’t have to wait for “Salaheddin.” You just need good grassroots organising and will. Mosques and churches help. New communication tools like mobile phones and social media also help.
9. Cruel, callous regimes won’t last forever. Regimes that limit freedoms and crush dreams certainly cannot last.
10. Tyrants are not immune from revolt. Revolts are not immune from tyranny either. The gains of change must be defended against chaos, anarchy, and other bad happenings.
This is accompanied by a wonderful picture of unarmed Muslim protesters prostrated in prayer, in contrast to a line of police officers adorned with shields and riot gear.
NPR reports on how full participation of women in government and civic life makes a difference:
Women in Tunisia are unique in the Arab world for enjoying near equality with men. And they are anxious to maintain their status.
In Tunis, old ladies, young girls and women in black judges' robes marched down the streets demanding that the dictator leave.
Hardly anyone wears the Muslim headscarf in the capital, and women seem to be everywhere, taking part in everything, alongside men.
Irgui Najet, 36, argues with a group of men on the sidewalk, defending the country's provisional leaders. She does more than hold her own. The men are so impressed with her knowledge, they tell her she should run for president. No one seems to think being a woman is a hindrance.
Najet, a criminal lawyer, explains the difference between Tunisian women and their sisters in the rest of the Arab world.
"We feel more free and more civilized than other Arab women," she says. "And especially since our revolution, we pity the women in neighboring countries. Look at Libya where they have to wear headscarves and can't even talk with men. This is a catastrophe."
Tunisian women credit a 1956 civil rights code for their many freedoms and equality, as well as an excellent education system that is open to all.
They also thank former President Habib Bourguiba, their founding father who led the independence struggle from France and wanted women to play a full role in Tunisian society.