The Islamist Ennahda Party’s election victory in Tunisia has come to mean many different things. For outside observers wary of how the “Arab Spring” might reshape regional politics, their victory signals a trend that will allow more conservative elements in Libya and Egypt to follow suit and succeed to power. For others, the victory is a positive sign that political Islam in the region has become “moderate” and will embrace democracy.
But for women’s rights activists in Tunisia, the victory is a worrying sign that their battle for equality has suddenly become much more difficult.
Days after Tunisia’s historic 23 October elections for a constituent assembly, tasked primarily with writing a new constitution, Tunisian feminists held an emergency meeting at Tunis’s feminist university to discuss strategic options.
“Our conviction now is that we have to fight for the preservation of the women’s rights that were included in the previous constitution,” says Salma Hajri, a physician and member of the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women, or ATFD by its French acronym.
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