Syria, Oops, Tunisia, Tunaciously, Seriously
47 minutes ago – Arab Spring, Oh Yeah, really-really? Duh! It was, originally, Prague Spring, I think
. What was Prague doing in Spring? I ask you. It wasn’t doing …
Syria, Oops, Tunisia, Tunaciously, Seriously · Slider Syria, Seriously · Slider Uncle Sam (Democracy) Exporting, Inc. Slider South China Sea Monsters, John …
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16 hours ago – वसुधैव कुटुंबकम. पश्यामि …. Apr 25, 2012 – The moderate Islamists in Al-Nahda Party who hold a plurality of seats in Tunisia’s …
वसुधैव कुटुंबकम. पश्यामि …. Apr 25, 2012 – The moderate Islamists in Al-Nahda Party who hold a plurality of seats in Tunisia’s …. Sid_Harth: My dear …
2 days ago – वसुधैव कुटुंबकम ….. And the head of Tunisia’s Ennahda (Renaissance) Movement, Rashid Al-Ghannushi, has intentionally sent messages …
30 ஏப்ரல் 2012 – We are not from Tunisia … सर्वधर्म समभाव और वसुधैव कुटुंबकम को जीवन का आधार मानने वाले हिंदुओं की स्थिति इन …
Arab Spring, Oh Yeah, really-really? Duh!
It was, originally, Prague Spring, I think. What was Prague doing in Spring? I ask you.
It wasn’t doing anything. It was a cold January day in Prague, Oops, Praha, to be correct. It all started with a bang. What bang? I ask. In the middle of a January? No bang. No bust. Nothing. Simply one man becomes a boss of a local chapter of the Communist Party, a wholly owned and a subsidized sub directory, Oops, dictatory of Moscow Communist Dictatorship, a totally Private Equity firm.
There is a joke somewhere. Firmy founded on the principle of commune, the Moscowites became famous for taking the very principle of sharing the power to the Hell.
It began on 5 January 1968, when reformist Alexander Dubček was elected the First Secretary of Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, and continued until 21 August when the Soviet Union and all members of the Warsaw Pact invaded the country with the notable exception of Romania to halt the reforms.
Did somebody say reform in plural?
I guess, Alexander Dubček said it first. A trouble maker? What is on his agenda? I ask.
He could, simply, have asked the president of the communist Party, the party of the first part, to take care of little and not so little regional problems. Was it necessary for Alexander to go ballistic? I ask.
Never? I ask.
Who knows? I ask.
Not me. I had nothing to do with Prague Spring. Arab Spring or Tunisia’s Tunaciously false Spring.
Get me outta here before God in the heaven strikes me dead for making fun of media’s baby.
America and communism do not get along. America and Islam, don’t get along. America and a rising communist country, capitalist gone wild, China, don’t get along. America and recession, don’t get along. America and justice, do not get along. America and wisdom, don’t get along. America and diplomacy, don’t get along. America and MOI, Oops, I don’t get along.
Sid Harth Spring? Oops!
…and I am Sid Harth@mysistereileen.com
Updated: April 9, 2012
For years, Tunisia was known mostly as the most European country of North Africa, with a relatively large middle class, liberal social norms, broad gender equality and welcoming Mediterranean beaches. But in January 2011, it took center stage as the launching pad of the wave of revolt that swept through the Arab world and beyond.
For all its modern traits, Tunisia had one of the most repressive governments in a region full of police states, and levels of corruption among its elite that became intolerable once the economic malaise that gripped southern Europe spread to the country.
The uprising began in December 2010, when a fruit vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on fire in the impoverished town of Sidi Bouzid to protest his lack of opportunity and the disrespect of the police.
In what became known as the Jasmine Revolution, a sudden and explosive wave of street protests ousted the authoritarian president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, who had ruled with an iron hand for 23 years. On Jan. 14, Mr. Ben Ali left the country, after trying unsuccessfully to placate the demonstrators with promises of elections. According to government figures issued later, 78 protesters died and 94 were injured during the demonstrations.
In the months after the revolution, Tunisia struggled with continued instability, new tensions between Islamicists and secular liberals and a still-limping economy. But of all the Arab states, it may have been the best positioned for a successful transition to a liberal democracy, with its relatively small, homogenous population of about 12 million, comparatively high levels of education, an apolitical military, a moderate Islamist movement and a long history of a unified national identity.
In the country’s first free election, millions of Tunisians cast votes in October 2011 for an assembly to draft a constitution and shape a new government, in a burst of pride and hope that after inspiring uprisings across the Arab world, their small country could now lead the way to democracy.
The move increased pressure on a government facing the biggest surge in protests since it came to power in a democratic transition last year.
May 29, 2012
Hundreds of hard-line Islamists rampaged through the town of Jendouba, attacking a police station and stores selling alcohol, said the official news agency.
May 27, 2012
The State Department’s report on global human rights for 2011, cataloging rights abuses in 194 countries, singles out Myanmar and Tunisia for praise, but is critical of China and Iran.
May 25, 2012
Libya’s former prime minister will be extradited to his country only if his life is not in danger there and he can be guaranteed a fair trial, Tunisia’s presidential spokesman said Wednesday.
May 24, 2012
In the awakening Arab world, who is going to step up and speak the truth?
May 6, 2012
A court on Thursday fined Nabil Karoui for disrupting public order and violating moral values by broadcasting an animated film that some religious leaders say insults Islam.
May 4, 2012
Riadh Ben Aissa, a Canadian construction executive who was born in Tunisia, has been held in Switzerland since the middle of April.
April 30, 2012
A Tunisian-inspired stewed chicken dish with chickpeas, turnips and carrots feels both light and extremely flavorful.
April 25, 2012
Belhassen Trabelsi, the brother-in-law of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, Tunisia’s former president, did not attend his own immigration hearing on Monday because he feared for his safety, his lawyer said.
April 24, 2012
Before the uprising, start-up companies were sometimes discouraged by regimes eager to protect the interests of small groups. Now they are more often welcomed as tools to create jobs.
April 12, 2012
The government began an investigation into Monday’s violent crackdown, when police used tear gas and batons to disperse stone-throwing protesters who stormed Habib Bourguiba Avenue.
April 12, 2012
In Tunisia and other countries that toppled governments in the Arab Spring, new regimes are struggling to impose order on the chaos left behind.
April 10, 2012
Photographs from Tunisia, Bahrain, Syria and Afghanistan.
April 10, 2012
Photographs from Mexico, Pakistan, Delaware and Tunisia.
April 09, 2012
The two Tunisian men were sentenced to seven years in prison for posting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad on Facebook, the Justice Ministry said.
April 6, 2012
The United States announced on Thursday that it would provide Tunisia a $100 million cash infusion to pay its debts to the World Bank and other international banks.
March 30, 2012
Ennahda, the ruling Islamist party, said the decision was an effort to unify a nation with disparate political factions.
March 27, 2012
Asylum seekers from Middle Eastern and West African countries experiencing civil strife surged into Europe last year, Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics agency, said Friday.
March 24, 2012
The court ruling raised concerns about a possible news media crackdown by the country’s new Islamist government.
March 9, 2012
In an article he wrote before his death on Thursday, Mr. Shadid examined how a party shaped by repression hopes to act as a regional model after being voted into power in Tunisia.
February 18, 2012
SEARCH 1780 Articles:
Unrest in the Arab World Navigator
A list of resources from around the Web about unrest in the Arab world as selected by researchers and editors of The New York Times.
- Arab Spring: an Interactive Timeline of Middle East Protests
- The Guardian
- Eye on the Middle East and North Africa
- United States Institute of Peace
- Uprisings in the Arab World
- International Crisis Group
- Change in the Middle East and North Africa
- Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
- “Countries at the Crossroads 2011″
- Freedom House, November 2011
- “Egypt in Transition”
- Congressional Research Service (via U.S. Dept. of State), Aug. 23, 2011
- Remarks by the President on the Middle East and North Africa
- The White House, May 19, 2011
- “Future Challenges for the Arab World: The Implications of Demographic and Economic Trends”
- Rand Corporation, May 18, 2011
- “The American Public and the Arab Awakening”
- Brookings Institution, April 20, 2011
- “Political Transition in Tunisia”
- Congressional Research Service (via FAS), Feb. 12, 2011
- “The Arab Awakening”
- The Brookings Institution (November 2011)
- “Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World”
- By Robin Wright (July 2011)
- “The New Arab Revolt: What Happened, What It Means, and What Comes Next”
- Council on Foreign Relations (May 2011)
- “One Year Later: Five Lessons from the Arab Revolts”
- The Brookings Institution, Dec. 20, 2011
- “Is the Arab Spring Bad for Women?”
- Foreign Policy, Dec. 20, 2011
- “After the Hope of the Arab Spring, the Chill of an Arab Winter”
- The Washington Post, Dec. 1, 2011
- Arab Public Opinion Poll
- The Brookings Institution, Nov. 21, 2011
- “The Syrian Problem”
- The New Yorker, May 30, 2011
- “After the Arab Spring”
- The Atlantic, March 28, 2011
- “In Tunisia, Act of One Fruit Vendor Unleashes Wave of Revolution through Arab World”
- The Washington Post, March 26, 2011
Global Voices Online
Human Rights Watch
Headlines Around the Web
June 4, 2012
A Tiny Revolution
June 3, 2012
June 2, 2012
The Washington Times
June 1, 2012
The Angry Arab News Service
June 1, 2012
After winning elections, members of Tunisia’s Ennahda Party have a chance to apply their belief that faith and democracy are compatible, a concept shaped by decades of struggle, theoretical debates and exile.
Millions of Tunisians stood in lines Sunday to vote for an assembly to draft a new constitution, marking the first national election since the ouster of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in January.
Tunisians prepared to vote on Sunday in the first election since the Arab Spring.
Tunisians prepared to vote on Sunday in the first election since the Arab Spring.
In the wake of widespread unemployment, promises from the government have raised expectations and then led to recriminations.
A list of resources from around the Web about Tunisia as selected by researchers and editors of The New York Times.
- C.I.A. World Factbook country profile
- State Department — history and overview
- BBC country profile
- News and online media
- National Geographic world music guide
- Economic outlook for the most developed countries (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development)
- Statistical profiles of the least developed countries (U.N.)
- World Bank country brief
- Resources and trends (U.S. D.O.E.)
- Regional assessments (U.N.)
- Country profile (World Health Organization)
- Children’s health (Unicef)
- Development indicators (World Bank)
- Natural disasters and relief efforts (ReliefWeb)
Other Useful Links
General Information on Tunisia
Official Name: Tunisian Republic
Capital: Tunis (Current local time)
Government Type: Republic
Population: 10.3 million
Area: 63,378 square miles; slightly smaller than Missouri
Languages: Arabic (official and one of the languages of commerce), French (commerce)
Literacy:Total Population: [74%] Male: [83%]; Female: [65%]
GDP Per Capita: $8,800
Year of Independence: 1956
Web site: Ministeres.tn (French)
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|Republic of Tunisia
|Motto: حرية، نظام، عدالة
“Ḥurriyyah, Niẓām, ‘Adālah”
“Liberty, Order, Justice”
|Anthem: “Humat al-Hima”
“Defenders of the Homeland”
(and largest city)
|-||Prime Minister||Hamadi Jebali|
|-||from France||March 20, 1956|
|-||The Tunisian revolution||18 December 2010|
|-||Total||163,610 km2 (92nd)
63,170 sq mi
|-||2012 estimate||10,732,900 (77th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2011 estimate|
|GDP (nominal)||2011 estimate|
|Gini (2000)||39.8 (medium)|
|HDI (2011)||0.698 (high) (94th)|
|Currency||Tunisian dinar (
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|-||Summer (DST)||not observed (UTC+1)|
|Drives on the||right|
|ISO 3166 code||TN|
|Internet TLD||.tn .تونس|
Tunisia (US i/tuːˈniːʒə/ two-NEE-zhə or UK /tjuːˈnɪziə/ tew-NIZ-iə; Arabic: تونس Tūnis pronounced [ˈtuːnɪs]), officially the Republic of Tunisia[note 1] (Arabic: الجمهورية التونسية al-Jumhūriyyah at-Tūnisiyyah), is the northernmost country in Africa. It is an Arab Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area is almost 165,000 square kilometres (64,000 sq mi), with an estimated population of just under 10.7 million. Its name is derived from the capital Tunis located in the northeast.
Tunisia is the smallest country in North Africa. The south of the country is composed of the Sahara desert, with much of the remainder consisting of particularly fertile soil and 1,300 kilometres (810 mi) of coastline.
Tunisia has relations with both the European Union—with whom it has an association agreement—and the Arab world. Tunisia is also a member of the Arab Maghreb Union, the Arab League, and the African Union. Tunisia has established close relations with France in particular, through economic cooperation, industrial modernization, and privatisation programs.
The word Tunisia is derived from Tunis; a city and capital of modern-day Tunisia. The present form of the name, with its Latinate suffix -ia, evolved from French Tunisie. The French derivative Tunisie was adopted in some European languages with slight modifications, introducing a distinctive name to designate the country. Other languages remained untouched, such as the Russian Туни́с (Tunís) and Spanish Túnez. In this case, the same name is used for both country and city, as with the Arabic تونس, and only by context can one tell the difference.
The name Tunis can be attributed to different origins. It can be associated with the Phoenician goddess Tanith (aka Tunit), ancient city of Tynes or to the Berber root ens which means “to lie down”.
The Atlas mountains and the Sahara desert both played a prominent role in ancient times, first with the famous Punic city of Carthage, then as the Roman province of Africa, which was known as the “bread basket” of Rome. Later, Tunisia was occupied by Vandals during the 5th century AD, Byzantines in the 6th century, and Arabs in the 8th century. Under the Ottoman Empire, Tunisia was known as “Regency of Tunis”. It passed under French protectorate in 1881. After obtaining independence in 1956 the country took the official name of the “Kingdom of Tunisia” at the end of the reign of Lamine Bey and the Husainid Dynasty. With the proclamation of the Tunisian Republic on July 25, 1957, the nationalist leader Habib Bourguiba became its first president.
The country was led by the authoritarian government of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from 1987 to 2011 before he fled during the Tunisian revolution. Tunisia now finds itself as an export-oriented country in the process of liberalizing and privatizing an economy that, while averaging 5% GDP growth since the early 1990s, has suffered from corruption benefiting politically connected elites.
Farming methods reached the Nile Valley from the Fertile Crescent region about 5000 BC, and spread to the Maghreb by about 4000 BC. Agricultural communities in the humid coastal plains of central Tunisia then were ancestors of today’s Berber tribes.
It was believed in ancient times that Africa was originally populated by Gaetulians and Libyans, both nomadic peoples. The demigod Hercules died in Spain and his polyglot eastern army was left to settle the land, with some migrating to Africa. Persians went to the West and inter married with the Gaetulians and became the Numidians. The Medes settled and were known as Mauri latter Moors. Sallust’s version of African history must be considered with reservations.
The Numidians and Moors belonged to the race from which the Berbers are descended. The translated meaning of Numidian is Nomad and indeed the people were semi-nomadic until the reign of Masinissa of the Massyli tribe.  
Phoenician colonies and Punic era
At the beginning of recorded history, Tunisia was inhabited by Berber tribes. Its coast was settled by Phoenicians starting as early as the 10th century BC. The city of Carthage was founded in the 9th century BC by Phoenician and Cypriot settlers. Legend says that Dido from Tyre, now in modern day Lebanon, founded the city in 814 BC, as retold by the Greek writer Timaeus of Tauromenium. The settlers of Carthage brought their culture and religion from the Phoenicians.
After a series of wars with Greek city-states of Sicily in the 5th century BC, Carthage rose to power and eventually became the dominant civilization in the Western Mediterranean. The people of Carthage worshipped a pantheon of Middle Eastern gods including Baal and Tanit. Tanit’s symbol, a simple female figure with extended arms and long dress, is a popular icon found in ancient sites. The founders of Carthage also established a Tophet, which was altered in Roman times.
A Carthaginian invasion of Italy led by Hannibal during the Second Punic War, one of a series of wars with Rome, nearly crippled the rise of Roman power. From the conclusion of the Second Punic War in 202 BC, Carthage functioned as a client state of the Roman Republic for another 50 years.
Following the Battle of Carthage in 149 BC, Carthage was conquered by Rome. After the Roman conquest, the region became one of the main granaries of Rome and was fully Latinized.
The Romans controlled nearly all of modern Tunisia from 149 BC until the area was conquered by the Vandals in the 5th century AD, only to be reconquered by Roman general Belisarius in the 6th century, during the rule of Emperor Justinian I.
During the Roman period the area of what is now Tunisia enjoyed a huge development. The economy, mainly during the Empire, boomed: the prosperity of the area depended on agriculture. Called the Granary of the Empire, the area of actual Tunisia and coastal Tripolitania, according to one estimate, produced one million tons of cereals each year, one-quarter of which was exported to the Empire. Additional crops included beans, figs, grapes, and other fruits.
By the 2nd century, olive oil rivalled cereals as an export item. In addition to the cultivations, and the capture and transporting of exotic wild animals from the western mountains, the principal production and exports included the textiles, marble, wine, timber, livestock, pottery such as African Red Slip, and wool.
Berber bishop Donatus Magnus was the founder of a Christian group known as the Donatists. During the 5th and 6th Centuries (from 430 to 533 AD), the Germanic Vandals invaded and ruled over a kingdom in North Africa that included present-day Tripoli. They were defeated by a combined force of Romans and Berbers.
View of the minaret (call-to-prayer tower) of the Great Mosque of Kairouan. Founded in 670, but dating in its present form from the 9th century, the Great Mosque of Kairouan, also called the Mosque of Uqba, is the oldest mosque in Tunisia as well as the oldest in the Muslim West. It is located in the city of Kairouan.
Around the second half of the 7th century and the beginning of the 8th century, the region was conquered by Arab Muslims, who founded the city of Kairouan, which became the first city of Islam in North Africa. In this period, the Great Mosque of Kairouan (also called the Mosque of Uqba) was erected in 670 AD. The Great Mosque of Kairouan, which has the oldest standing minaret in the world, is the most ancient and most prestigious sanctuary in the Muslim West; it is also a remarkable masterpiece of Islamic art and architecture. Tunisia flourished under Arab rule as extensive irrigation installations were constructed to supply towns with water and promote agriculture (especially olive production). This prosperity permitted luxurious court life and was marked by the construction of new Palace cities such as al-Abassiya (809) and Raqadda (877).
Successive Muslim dynasties ruled Tunisia (Ifriqiya at the time) with occasional instabilities caused mainly by Berber rebellions; of these reigns we can cite the Aghlabids (800–900) and Fatimids (909–972). After conquering Cairo, Fatimids abandoned North Africa to the local Zirids (Tunisia and parts of Eastern Algera, 972–1148) and Hammadid (Central and eastern Algeria, 1015–1152). Zirid Tunisia prospered, with agriculture, industry, trade and learning, both religious and secular, all flourishing. Management of the later Zirid emirs was neglectful though, and political instability was connected to the decline of Tunisian trade and agriculture. The invasion of Tunisia by the Banu Hilal, a warlike Arab Bedouin tribe encouraged by the Fatimids of Egypt to seize North Africa, sent the region’s urban and economic life into further decline. The Arab historian Ibn Khaldun wrote that the lands ravaged by Banu Hilal invaders had become completely arid desert.
The coasts were held briefly by the Normans of Sicily in the 12th century, but following the conquest of Tunisia in 1159–1160 by the Almohads the last Christians in Tunisia disappeared either through forced conversion or emigration. The Almohads initially ruled over Tunisia through a governor, usually a near relative of the Caliph. Despite the prestige of the new masters, the country was still unruly, with continuous rioting and fighting between the townsfolk and wandering Arabs and Turks, the latter being subjects of the Armenian adventurer Karakush. The greatest threat to Almohad rule in Tunisia was the Banu Ghaniya, relatives of the Almoravids, who from their base in Mallorca tried to restore Almoravid rule over the Maghreb. Around 1200 they succeeded in extending their rule over the whole of Tunisia, until they were crushed by Almohad troops in 1207. After this success, the Almohads installed Walid Abu Hafs as the governor of Tunisia. Tunisia remained part of the Almohad state, until 1230 when the son of Abu Hafs declared himself independent. During the reign of the Hafsid dynasty, fruitful commercial relationships were established with several Christian Mediterranean states. In the late 16th century the coast became a pirate stronghold (see: Barbary States).
In the last years of the Hafsids, Spain seized many of the coastal cities, but these were recovered by the Ottoman Empire. Under its Turkish governors, the Beys, Tunisia attained virtual independence. The Hussein dynasty of Beys, established in 1705, lasted until 1957. The Maghreb suffered from the deadly combination of plague and famine. The great epidemics ravaged Tunisia in 1784–1785, 1796–1797 and 1818–1820.
In 1869, Tunisia declared itself bankrupt and an international financial commission took control over its economy. In 1881, using the pretext of a Tunisian incursion into Algeria, the French invaded with an army of about 36,000 and forced the Bey to agree to the terms of the 1881 Treaty of Bardo (Al Qasr as Sa’id). With this treaty, Tunisia was officially made a French protectorate, over the objections of Italy. Under French colonization, European settlements in the country were actively encouraged; the number of French colonists grew from 34,000 in 1906 to 144,000 in 1945. In 1910 there were 105,000 Italians in Tunisia.
World War II
In 1942–1943, Tunisia was the scene of the third major operations by the Allied Forces (the British Empire and the United States) against the Axis Powers (Italy and Germany) during World War II. The main body of the British army, advancing from their victory in the Battle of el-Alamein under the command of British Field Marshal Montgomery, pushed into Tunisia from the south. The U.S. and other allies, following their invasions of Algeria and Morocco in Operation Torch, invaded from the west.
German and Italian POWs, following the fall of Tunis, 12 May 1943. Over 230,000 German and Italian troops were taken as prisoners of war.
Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, commander of the Axis forces in North Africa, had hoped to inflict a similar defeat on the Allies in Tunisia as German forces did in the Battle of France in 1940. Before the battle for el-Alamein, the Allied forces had been forced to retreat toward Egypt. As such, the battle for Tunisia was a major test for the Allies. They concluded that in order to defeat Axis Powers they would have to coordinate their actions and quickly recover from the inevitable setbacks the German-Italian forces would inflict.
On February 19, 1943, Rommel launched an attack on the American forces in the Kasserine Pass region of Western Tunisia, hoping to inflict the kind of demoralizing and alliance-shattering defeat the Germans had dealt to Poland, Britain and France. The initial results were a disaster for the United States; the area around the Kasserine Pass is the site of many U.S. war graves from that time.
However, the American forces were ultimately able to reverse their retreat. With a critical strategy in tank warfare, and having determined that encirclement was feasible, the British, Australian and New Zealand forces broke through the Mareth Line on March 20, 1943. The Allies subsequently linked up on April 8, and on May 12, the German-Italian Army in Tunisia surrendered. Thus, the United States, United Kingdom, Australian, Free French, and Polish forces (as well as others) were able to win a major battle as an Allied army.
The battle, though overshadowed by Stalingrad, represented a major Allied victory of World War II largely because it forged the Alliance that would one day liberate Western Europe.
Tunisia achieved independence from France in 1956 led by Habib Bourguiba, who later became the first Tunisian President. In November 1987, doctors declared Bourguiba unfit to rule and, in a bloodless coup d’état, Prime Minister Zine El Abidine Ben Ali assumed the presidency. He and his family subsequently were accused of corruption and plundering the country’s money and fled into exile in 2011.
Before 2010–2011 revolution
Tunisia is a constitutional republic, with a president serving as chief of state, prime minister as head of government, a bicameral legislature and a court system influenced by French civil law. While Tunisia is formally a democracy with a multi-party system, the secular Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD), formerly Neo Destour, had controlled the country as one of the most repressive regimes in the Arab World since its independence in 1956.
President Ben Ali, previously Habib Bourguiba‘s minister and a military figure, held office from 1987 to 2011, having acceded to the executive office of Habib Bourguiba after a team of medical experts judged Bourguiba unfit to exercise the functions of the office in accordance with Article 57 of the Tunisian constitution. The anniversary of Ben Ali’s succession, November 7, was celebrated as a national holiday. He was consistently re-elected with enormous majorities every election, the last being October 25, 2009, until he fled the country amid popular unrest in January 2011.
Tunisia has a republican presidential system characterized by a bicameral parliamentary system, including the Chamber of Deputies, which has 214 seats, 25% of which are reserved for ‘opposition parties,’ and the Chamber of Advisors (112 members), which is composed of representatives of political parties, professional organisations patronised by the president, and by personalities appointed by the president of the Republic. The Prime Minister and cabinet, appointed by the president, play a strong role in the execution of policy and approval of legislation. Regional governors and local administrators are also appointed by the central government. Largely consultative mayors and municipal councils are elected.
The President’s Constitutional Democratic Rally, or RCD in an abbreviation of the French, had consistently won large majorities in local and parliamentary elections. It composed of more than 2 million members and more than 6000 representations throughout the country and largely overlapped with all important state institutions. Although the party was renamed (in Bourguiba’s days it used to be known as the Socialist Destourian Party), its policies were still considered to be largely secular but not socialist or liberal. Rare for the Arab world, women hold more than 20% of seats in both chambers of parliament. Moreover, Tunisia is the only country in the Arab world where polygamy is forbidden by law. This is part of a provision in the country’s Code of Personal Status, which was introduced by the former president Bourguiba in 1956.)
The Tunisian legal system is based on the French civil code and on Islamic law; the judiciary is appointed by the Ministry of Justice. The Code of Personal Status remains one of the most progressive civil codes in the Middle East and the Muslim world. Enacted less than five months after Tunisia gained its independence, the code was meant to end gender inequality and update family law, to enable greater social and economic progress and make Tunisia a fully modern society. Among other reforms, the code outlawed the practices of polygamy and repudiation, or a husband’s right to unilaterally divorce his wife.
Independent human rights groups, such as Amnesty International, Freedom House, and Protection International, have documented that basic human and political rights were not respected. The regime obstructed in any way possible the work of local human rights organizations. In the Economist‘s 2008 Democracy Index Tunisia was classified as an authoritarian regime ranking 141 out of 167 countries studied. In 2008, in terms of freedom of the press, Tunisia was ranked 143 out of 173.
Since 1987 Tunisia has formally reformed its political system several times, abolishing life presidency and opening up the parliament to opposition parties. The President’s official speeches are full of references to the importance of democracy and freedom of speech. According to Amnesty International, “the Tunisian government is misleading the world as it conveys a positive image of the human rights situation in the country while abuses by its security forces continue unabated and are committed with impunity”.
Freedom of the press is officially guaranteed by the government, although independent press outlets remained restricted until 2011, as did a substantial amount of web content. According to the Open Net Initiative, journalists were often obstructed from reporting on controversial events. In practice, no public criticism of the regime was tolerated and all direct protest was severely suppressed and did not get reported in the local media. This was the case with the public demonstrations against nepotism. In January 2010 U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton mentioned Tunisia and China as the two countries with the greatest internet censorship. The state-owned ‘Publinet’ internet network had more than 1.1 million users and hundreds of internet cafes, which monitored and filtered traffic. Hundreds of thousands of young men avoided compulsory conscription and lived with the constant fear of arrest, although it appears that the police went after them only in certain times of the year (the ‘raffle’) and often let them go if a sufficient bribe was paid.
Tunisian journalists and human rights activists were harassed and faced surveillance and imprisonment under harsh conditions. Others were dismissed from their jobs or denied their right to communicate and move freely. The authorities had also prevented the emergence of an independent judiciary, further compounding the problem.
Corruption and nepotism during the Ben Ali presidency
Accusations were made against the old regime, accusing it of being a kleptocracy with corrupt members of the Trabelsi family, most notably in the cases of Imed Trabelsi and Belhassen Trabelsi, controlling much of the business sector in the country. In its January/February 2008 issue, the Foreign Policy Magazine reported that Tunisia’s First Lady was using a government 737 Boeing Business Jet to make “unofficial visits” to European fashion capitals, such as Milan, Paris and Geneva. The report mentioned that the trips are not on the official travel itinerary. The former first lady was described then as a shopaholic. Tunisia refused a French request for the extradition of two of the President’s nephews, from Leila’s side, who were accused by the French State prosecutor of having stolen two mega-yachts from a French marina. During the last few years of the old regime, rumors circulated that Ben Ali’s son-in-law Sakher al-Materi (the husband of Zine and Leila’s daughter Nessrine) was being primed to eventually take over the country.
2009 national elections
On October 25, 2009, national elections to elect the president and parliament were held in Tunisia in what was described by a Human Rights Watch report as “an atmosphere of repression”. Ben Ali faced three candidates, two of whom said they actually supported the incumbent. No independent observer was allowed to monitor the vote. Zinedine Ben Ali won a landslide victory, with 89.62%. His opponent, Mohamed Bouchiha, received 5.01%. The candidate who was most critical of the regime, Ahmed Ibrahim, of the Ettajdid party, received only 1.57% after a campaign in which he was not allowed to put posters up or hold any kind of meeting. The president’s party, the RCD, also got the majority of votes for the parliamentary election, 84.59%. The Movement of Socialist Democrats party received 4.63%.
The election received criticism in foreign media. Human Rights Watch has reported that parties and candidates were denied exposure equal to the sitting president, and that the Ettajdid party’s weekly publication, Ettarik al-Jadid, was seized by authorities. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, “97% of newspaper campaign coverage was devoted to President Ben Ali amid severe restrictions on independent reporting. Ben Ali’s government went after the country’s journalist union, bringing down its democratically elected board, while his police bullied and harassed critical reporters. Two journalists, one of them a leading critic of the president, were in jail later in the year. Journalist Taoufik Ben Brik, who had published two articles in French newspapers that were critical of the regime, has been incarcerated since October 29, 2009 until his release on April 27, 2010. (The Court of Appeal upheld a sentence of nine years on 3 January 2010 in a trial that “confirmed the complete absence of independence of the Tunisian legal system” the defendant’s French lawyer William Bourdon said.) Florence Beaugé, a correspondent for the French daily Le Monde, tried to cover the polling but was put on a flight back to Paris on October 21.
|Candidate||Party||Popular vote (%)|
|Zine El Abidine Ben Ali||RCD||89.62|
2010–2011 Tunisian revolution
The Tunisian revolution was an intensive campaign of civil resistance, including a series of street demonstrations that took place in Tunisia. The events began when Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year old Tunisian street vendor, set himself afire on 17 December 2010, in protest of the confiscation of his wares and the humiliation that was inflicted on him by a municipal official. This act became the catalyst for mass demonstrations and riots throughout Tunisia in protest of social and political issues in the country. Anger and violence intensified following Bouazizi’s death on 4 January 2011, ultimately leading longtime President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to step down on 14 January 2011, after 23 years in power. International Tunisian organizations, such as the Tunisian Community Center in the US, supported the protesters’ aims toward democracy as well, in addition to TCC’s efforts to freeze Ben Ali’s assets abroad.
The demonstrations were precipitated by high unemployment, food inflation, corruption, a lack of freedom of speech and other political freedoms and poor living conditions. The protests constituted the most dramatic wave of social and political unrest in Tunisia in three decades and resulted in scores of deaths and injuries, most of which were the result of action by police and security forces against demonstrators. Labour unions were said to be an integral part of the protests. The protests inspired similar actions throughout the Arab world; sparking the Egyptian revolution in which Egypt’s longtime president Hosni Mubarak was ousted, Libya – where a civil war broke out, the Yemeni Revolution, in which longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced to resign and further protests in Algeria, Jordan, Bahrain, Iraq, Mauritania, Pakistan, and Syria, – as well as elsewhere in the wider North Africa and Middle East.
In response to the demonstrations, Ben Ali declared a state of emergency in the country, dissolved the government on January 14, 2011, and promised new legislative elections within six months. But on that same day Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi went on state television to say he was assuming power in Tunisia. Unconfirmed news reports, citing unidentified government sources in Tunisia, said that the President had left the country. Ghannouchi based his speech on Article 56 of the Tunisian constitution. However, the head of Tunisia’s Constitutional Court, Fethi Abdennadher, confirmed that Ghannouchi violated the constitution, as Article 56 was not applicable to the circumstances and required a President. Article 57 of the constitution stated that the President of the Parliament should take the executive power and organize an election in 45 to 60 days. Consequently, Fouad Mebazaa became acting President following the Constitutional Court’s interpretation of the situation and the Constitution. It was soon confirmed, however, that Ben Ali had indeed fled to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. On January 26, 2011, INTERPOL confirmed that its National Central Bureau (NCB) in Tunis had issued a global alert via INTERPOL’s international network to seek the location and arrest of former Tunisian President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali and six of his relatives.
Protests continued in Tunisia to call for banning of the ruling party and the eviction of all its members from the transitional government formed by Mohammed Ghannouchi. Eventually the new government gave in to the demands and a new prime minister Beji Caid-Essebsi was appointed by the acting president on Thursday March 3, 2011. Two of the first actions made after the appointment of the new government were the decision of the Tunis court to ban the ex-ruling party RCD and to confiscate all its resources, and a decree by the minister of the interior banning the “political police” including what has been known as the state security special forces which were used to intimidate and persecute political activists
2011 national elections
On 3 March 2011, the president announced that elections to a Constituent Assembly would be held on 23 October 2011. The constituent assembly elections took place as scheduled with international and internal observers declaring it free and fair. The Ennahda Movement, formerly banned under the Ben Ali regime, won a plurality of 90 seats out of a total of 217.
On 12 December 2011, former dissident and veteran human rights activist Moncef Marzouki was elected as president of Tunisia by a ruling coalition dominated by the moderate Islamist Nahda party, and sworn in on 13 December 2011. Marzouki had previously been imprisoned and exiled for years for opposing former President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali. At the time of his election, Marzouki was head of the secular center-left Congress for the Republic party. The Islamist Nahda party also “won the largest share of seats in an assembly charged with appointing a transitional government and drafting a new constitution.”
The new Constitution of Tunisia guarantees rights for women, and states that the President’s religion “shall be Islam.”
Tunisia has a diverse economy, ranging from agriculture, mining, manufacturing, and petroleum products, to tourism. In 2008 it had a GDP of US $41 billion (official exchange rates), or $82 billion (purchasing power parity). It also has one of Africa and the Middle East’s highest per-capita GDPs (PPP). The agricultural sector stands for 11.6% of the GDP, industry 25.7%, and services 62.8%. The industrial sector is mainly made up of clothing and footwear manufacturing, production of car parts, and electric machinery. Although Tunisia managed an average 5% growth over the last decade it continues to suffer from a high unemployment especially among youth.
Tunisia was in 2009 ranked the most competitive economy in Africa and the 40th in the world by the World Economic Forum. Tunisia has managed to attract many international companies such as Airbus and Hewlett-Packard.
Tourism accounted for 7% of GDP and 370,000 jobs in 2009.
The European Union remains Tunisia’s first trading partner, currently accounting for 72.5% of Tunisian imports and 75% of Tunisian exports. Tunisia is a one of the European Union’s most established trading partners in the Mediterranean region and ranks as the EU’s 30th largest trading partner. Tunisia was the first Mediterranean country to sign an Association Agreement with the European Union, in July 1995, although even before the date of entry came into force, Tunisia started dismantling tariffs on bilateral EU trade. Tunisia finalised the tariffs dismantling for industrial products in 2008 and therefore was the first Mediterranean country to enter in a free trade area with EU.
Tunisia also attracted large Persian Gulf investments (especially from United Arab Emirates) the largest include:
- Mediterranean gate: a US$ 25 billion project to build a new city in the south of Tunis.
- Tunis Sport City: an entire sports city currently being constructed in Tunis, Tunisia. The city that will consist of apartment buildings as well as several sports facilities will be built by the Bukhatir Group at a cost of $5 Billion.
- Tunis Financial harbour: will deliver North Africa’s first offshore financial centre at Tunis Bay in a project with an end development value of US$ 3 billion.
- Tunis Telecom City: A US$ 3 billion project to create an IT hub in Tunis.
The majority of the electricity used in Tunisia is produced locally, by state-owned company STEG (Société Tunisienne de l´Electricité et du Gaz). In 2008, a total of 13,747 GWh was produced in the country.
Oil and gas
Oil production of Tunisia is about 97,600 barrels per day (15,520 m3/d). The main field is El Bourma.
Oil production began in 1966 in Tunisia. Currently there are 12 oil fields.
- List of oil fields
|7 November oil field|
|El Menzah field|
|El Biban field|
|El Borma field|
|Sidi El Kilani field|
Tunisia has plans for two nuclear power stations, to be operational by 2019. Both facilities are projected to produce 900–1000 MW. France is set to become an important partner in Tunisia’s nuclear power plans, having signed an agreement, along with other partners, to deliver training and technology.
The Desertec project is a large-scale energy project aimed at installing solar power panels in northern Africa, with a power line connection between it and southern Europe. Tunisia will be a part of this project, but exactly how it may benefit from this remains to be seen.
- The country maintains 19,232 kilometres (11,950 mi) of roads, with the A1 Tunis-Sfax, P1 Tunis-Libya and P7 Tunis-Algeria being the major highways.
- There are 30 airports in Tunisia, with Tunis Carthage International Airport and Monastir International Airport being the most important ones. A new airport, Enfidha–Martyrs International Airport, was completed at the end of October 2009 but was delayed in opening and did not open fully until 2011. The airport is located North of Sousse at Enfidha and is to mainly serve the resorts of Hamammet and Port El Kantoui, together with inland cities such as Kairouan. There are four airlines headquartered in Tunisia: Tunisair, Karthago Airlines, Nouvelair and Tunisair express.
- The railway network is operated by SNCFT and amounts to 2,135 kilometres (1,327 mi) in total. The Tunis area is served by a tram network, named Metro Leger.
Governorates and cities
Tunisia is subdivided into 24 governorates, they are:
The Tunisian armed forces are divided into three branches:
Tunisia’s military spending is 1.6% of GDP (2006). The army is responsible for national defence and also internal security.
Tunisia is situated on the Mediterranean coast of North Africa, midway between the Atlantic Ocean and the Nile Delta. It is bordered by Algeria on the west and Libya on the south east. It lies between latitudes 30° and 38°N, and longitudes 7° and 12°E. An abrupt southward turn of the Mediterranean coast in northern Tunisia gives the country two distinctive Mediterranean coasts, west-east in the north, and north-south in the east.
Though it is relatively small in size, Tunisia has great environmental diversity due to its north-south extent. Its east-west extent is limited. Differences in Tunisia, like the rest of the Maghreb, are largely north-south environmental differences defined by sharply decreasing rainfall southward from any point. The Dorsal, the eastern extension of the Atlas Mountains, runs across Tunisia in a northeasterly direction from the Algerian border in the west to the Cape Bon peninsula in the east. North of the Dorsal is the Tell, a region characterized by low, rolling hills and plains, again an extension of mountains to the west in Algeria. In the Khroumerie, the northwestern corner of the Tunisian Tell, elevations reach 1,050 metres (3,440 ft) and snow occurs in winter.
The Sahel, a broadening coastal plain along Tunisia’s eastern Mediterranean coast, is among the world’s premier areas of olive cultivation. Inland from the Sahel, between the Dorsal and a range of hills south of Gafsa, are the Steppes. Much of the southern region is semi-arid and desert.
Tunisia has a coastline 1,148 kilometres (713 mi) long. In maritime terms, the country claims a contiguous zone of 24 nautical miles (44.4 km; 27.6 mi), and a territorial sea of 12 nautical miles (22.2 km; 13.8 mi).
Tunisia’s climate is temperate in the north, with mild rainy winters and hot, dry summers. The south of the country is desert. The terrain in the north is mountainous, which, moving south, gives way to a hot, dry central plain. The south is semiarid, and merges into the Sahara. A series of salt lakes, known as chotts or shatts, lie in an east-west line at the northern edge of the Sahara, extending from the Gulf of Gabes into Algeria. The lowest point is Shatt al Gharsah, at 17 metres (56 ft) below sea level and the highest is Jebel ech Chambi, at 1,544 metres (5,066 ft).
Some 98% of modern native Tunisians are from a sociological, historical and more importantly, genealogical standpoint mainly of Berber descent. Tunisian Arabic, like other Maghrebi dialects, has a vocabulary mostly Arabic, with significant Berber substrates. However, there is also a small (1% at most) population of Berbers located in the Jabal Dahar mountains in the South and on the island of Jerba and Altrough the Borders still dominate the pure Berber languages, often called Shelha. Furthermore, genetic studies have found evidence suggesting that the Arab population in Tunisia could be due to a cultural process rather than a demographic replacement.
The small European population (1%) consists mostly of French and Italians. There is also a long-established Jewish community in the country, the history of the Jews in Tunisia going back some 2,000 years. In 1948 the Jewish population was an estimated 105,000, but by 2003 only about 1,500 remained.
The first people known to history in what is now Tunisia were the Berbers. Numerous civilizations and peoples have invaded, migrated to, and been assimilated into the population over the millennia, with influences of population via conquest from Phoenicians/Carthaginians, Romans, Vandals, Arabs, Ottoman Turks, and French.
Additionally, after the Reconquista and expulsion of non-Christians and Moriscos from Spain, many Spanish Moors and Jews also arrived. According to Matthew Carr, “As many as eighty thousand Moriscos settled in Tunisia, most of them in and around the capital, Tunis, which still contains a quarter known as Zuqaq al-Andalus, or Andalusia Alley.” In addition, from the late 19th century to after World War II, Tunisia was home to large populations of French and Italians (255,000 Europeans in 1956), although nearly all of them, along with the Jewish population, left after Tunisia became independent.
The constitution declares Islam as the official state religion and requires the President to be Muslim. Aside from the president, Tunisians enjoy a significant degree of religious freedom, a right enshrined and protected in its constitution, which guarantees the freedom to practice one’s religion.
The country has a secular culture that encourages acceptance of other religions and religious freedom. With regards to the freedom of Muslims, the Tunisian government has restricted the wearing of Islamic head scarves (hijab) in government offices and it discourages women from wearing them on public streets and public gatherings. The government believes the hijab is a “garment of foreign origin having a partisan connotation”. There were reports that the Tunisian police harassed men with “Islamic” appearance (such as those with beards), detained them, and sometimes compelled men to shave their beards off. In 2006, the former Tunisian president declared that he would “fight” the hijab, which he refers to as “ethnic clothing”.
Individual Tunisians are tolerant of religious freedom and generally do not inquire about a person’s personal beliefs.
Tunisia has a sizable Christian community of around 25,000 adherents, mainly Catholics (22,000) and to a lesser degree Protestants. Berber Christians continued to live in Tunisia up until the early 15th century. Judaism is the country’s third largest religion with 1,500 members. One-third of the Jewish population lives in and around the capital. The remainder lives on the island of Djerba, with 39 synagogues, and where the Jewish community dates back 2,500 years.
Djerba, an island in the Gulf of Gabès, is home to El Ghriba synagogue, which is one of the oldest synagogues in the world. Many Jews consider it a pilgrimage site, with celebrations taking place there once every year. In fact, Tunisia along with Morocco has been said to be the Arab countries most accepting of their Jewish populations.
Arabic is the official language, and Tunisian Arabic, known as Derja, is the local, vernacular variety of Arabic and is used by the public. There is also a small minority of speakers of Shelha, a Berber language.
Due to the former French occupation, French also plays a major role in the country, despite having no official status. It is widely used in education (e.g., as the language of instruction in the sciences in secondary school), the press, and in business. Most Tunisians are able to speak it. Due to Tunisia’s proximity to Italy and the large number of Italian Tunisians, Italian is understood and spoken by a small part of the Tunisian population.
Education is given a high priority and accounts for 6% of GNP. A basic education for children between the ages of 6 and 16 has been compulsory since 1991. Tunisia ranked 17th in the category of “quality of the [higher] educational system” and 21st in the category of “quality of primary education” in The Global Competitiveness Report 2008-9, released by The World Economic Forum.
While children generally acquire Tunisian Arabic at home, when they enter school at age 6, they are taught to read and write in Standard Arabic. From the age of 8, they are taught French while English is introduced at the age of 12.
Colleges and universities in Tunisia include:
- École Polytechnique de Tunisie
- International University of Tunis
- Université Libre de Tunis
- Université de l’Aviation et Technologie de Tunisie
- Institut National d’Agronomie de Tunis
- Université des Sciences de Tunis
The culture of Tunisia is mixed due to their long established history of conquerors such as Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals, Byzantines, Arabs, Turks, Spaniards, and the French who all left their mark on the country.
In practice, no public criticism of the Ben Ali regime was tolerated and all direct protest was severely suppressed and did not get reported in the local media. Tunisian journalists and human rights activists were harassed and faced surveillance and imprisonment under harsh conditions.
Football is the most popular sport in Tunisia. The Tunisia national football team, also known as “The Eagles of Carthage,” won the 2004 African Cup of Nations (ACN), which was held in Tunisia. They also represented Africa in the 2005 FIFA Cup of Confederations, which was held in Germany, but they could not go beyond the first round. The Eagles of Carthage have participated in four World Cup Championships. The team’s record in the World Cup is shown below:
|Year in World Cup||Result|
The premier football league is the “Tunisian Ligue Professionnelle 1“. The main clubs are Espérance Sportive de Tunis, Club Africain, Club Sportif Sfaxien and Étoile Sportive du Sahel. The latter team participated in the 2008 World Cup for clubs and reached the semi-final match, in which it was eliminated by Boca Juniors from Argentina.
The Tunisia national handball team has participated in several handball world championships. In 2005, Tunisia came fourth. The national league consists of about 12 teams, with ES. Sahel and Esperance S.Tunis dominating. The most famous Tunisian handball player is Wissem Hmam. In the 2005 Handball Championship in Tunis, Wissem Hmam was ranked as the top scorer of the tournament. The Tunisian national handball team won the African Cup eight times, being the team dominating this competition. The Tunisians won the 2010 African Cup in Egypt by defeating the host country.
- Festival of Mediterranean guitar – Tunis (February)
- Festival International of instrumental music – Tunis – (February)
- Festival of Tunisian Music – Tunis (March)
- Festival Matmata – Matmata (March)
- A Capella international music festival – Tunis – (April)
- Tozeur tradicional Festival of musical theatre – Tozeur – (April/ May)
- Festival Oriljazz (April)
- Festival “Tozeur, oriental, African” (April)
- Festival international of spring- Sbeitla (April)
- festival of Arabic poetry – Tozeur – (April)
- Festival of Jazz in Carthage – Gammarth (April)
- Coregrafic summit of dance in Carthage – Tunis (May)
- Khamsa holidays & Dance – Tunis (June)
- E-Fest festival of Music & electronic culture – Tunis (June)
- International Festival of Jazz – Tabarka (June/ July)
- Falconry Festival – Hauaria (June)
- Festival of plastic arts – Mahres, Sfax (June/ August)
- Festival International of traditional Arabic music – Jenduba (July)
- Tabarka Jazz festival (مهرجان طبرقة للجاز) Kebili music- Tabarka (July)
- International Festival of Music Symfonica de El-Jem – Nabel (July/ August)
- International Festival of Dance in Hammamet – theatre y música – Hammamet (July/ August)
- Yasmine Hammame tFestival – Hammamet (July)
- Hourse Festival – Sidi Bouzid Meknassy (July)
- Festival International of Carthage – Tunis (July/ August)
- Festival International of Hammamet – Hammamet (July/ August)
- Festival International of Susa – Susa – (July/ August)
- Ulysse Festival – Djerba (July/ August)
- Festival International of Testur Music Maluf Testour, Béja (July)
- Festival International of Bizerte – Bizerta – (July/ August)
- Festival International of Dugga – Dugga (July/ August)
- Festival of Carthage Byrsa – art – Carthage – (July/ September)
- Medina festival – dance & Music – Tunis – (August/ September)
- Marsa by night- Marsa, Tunis (August/ September)
- Musical October Festival of Carthage – Tunis – (October)
- Musiqat, International Festival of music – Bu Sidi Said (October)
- Sahara Festival in Douz – Douz (November)
- Oasis Festival – Tozeur (November)
- Dance Techno House Festival, Music – Tunis (December)
- International Festival of Sahara in Douz – Dance, theatre, music – Mahdia, Douz (December)
- InternacionalFestival Tozeur Oasis (المهرجان الدولي للواحات بتوزر) Dance, Music – Tozeur (December)
- Techno House festival – Gammarth (December)
- Dar Sebastian lyric art festival – music lyric (December)
- Latin Caravan Festival – Tozeur (December)
- subsaharian tradicional – Festival – Douz (December)
- Festival of Medina – Tunis (Ramadan)
- Festival laasida of Touza – Monastir (يوم المولد النبوي الشريف)
Tunisia is a member of the following organizations:
|United Nations||since 12 November 1956|
|Arab League||since 1958|
|Organisation of the Islamic Conference (now Organisation of Islamic Cooperation)||since 1969|
|World Trade Organization||since 29 March 1995|
|Mediterranean Dialogue group||since February 1995|
|Wikipedia books are collections of articles that can be downloaded or ordered in print.|
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|History of Czechoslovakia|
This article is part of a series
|Second Republic and World War II(1938–1945)|
|Velvet Revolution and Democracy(1989–1992)|
The Prague Spring (Czech: Pražské jaro, Slovak: Pražská jar) was a period of political liberalization in Czechoslovakia during the era of its domination by the Soviet Union after World War II. It began on 5 January 1968, when reformist Alexander Dubček was elected the First Secretary of Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, and continued until 21 August when the Soviet Union and all members of the Warsaw Pact invaded the country with the notable exception of Romania to halt the reforms.
The Prague Spring reforms were an attempt by Dubček to grant additional rights to the citizens in an act of partial decentralization of the economy and democratization. The freedoms granted included a loosening of restrictions on the media, speech and travel. After national discussion of dividing the country into a federation of three republics, Bohemia, Moravia-Silesia and Slovakia, Dubček oversaw the decision to split into two, the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic. This was the only change that survived the end of the Prague Spring.
The reforms, especially the decentralization of administrative authority, were not received well by the Soviets, who, after failed negotiations, sent thousands of Warsaw Pact troops and tanks to occupy the country. A large wave of emigration swept the nation. While there were many non-violent protests in the country, including several suicides by self-immolation, there was no military resistance. Czechoslovakia remained occupied until 1990.
After the invasion, Czechoslovakia entered a period of normalization: subsequent leaders attempted to restore the political and economic values that had prevailed before Dubček gained control of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ). Gustáv Husák, who replaced Dubček and also became president, reversed almost all of Dubček’s reforms. The Prague Spring inspired music and literature such as the work of Václav Havel, Karel Husa, Karel Kryl, and Milan Kundera‘s novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being.
The process of de-Stalinization in Czechoslovakia had begun under Antonín Novotný in the late 1950s and early 1960s, but had progressed slower than in most other states of the Eastern Bloc. Following the lead of Nikita Khrushchev, Novotný proclaimed the completion of socialism, and the new constitution, accordingly, adopted the name Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. The pace of change, however, was sluggish; the rehabilitation of Stalinist-era victims, such as those convicted in the Slánský trials, may have been considered as early as 1963, but did not take place until 1967. As the strict regime eased its rules, the Union of Czechoslovak Writers cautiously began to air discontent, and in the union’s gazette, Literární noviny, members suggested that literature should be independent of Party doctrine.
In the early 1960s, Czechoslovakia underwent an economic downturn. The Soviet model of industrialization applied poorly to Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia was already quite industrialized before World War II and the Soviet model mainly took into account less developed economies. Price information that would have corrected errors in industrialization policy under capitalism was either forbidden or ignored. Novotný’s attempt at restructuring the economy, the 1965 New Economic Model, spurred increased demand for political reform as well.
In June 1967, a small fraction of the Czech writer’s union sympathized with radical socialists, specifically Ludvík Vaculík, Milan Kundera, Jan Procházka, Antonín Jaroslav Liehm, Pavel Kohout and Ivan Klíma. A few months later, at a party meeting, it was decided that administrative actions against the writers who openly expressed support of reformation would be taken. Since only a small part of the union held these beliefs, the remaining members were relied upon to discipline their colleagues. Control over Literární noviny and several other publishing houses was transferred to the ministry of culture, and even members of the party who later became major reformers—including Dubček—endorsed these moves.
Meanwhile, President Antonín Novotný was losing support. First Secretary of the regional Communist Party of Slovakia, Alexander Dubček, and economist Ota Šik challenged him at a meeting of the Central Committee. Novotný then invited Soviet premier Leonid Brezhnev to Prague that December, seeking support; but Brezhnev was surprised at the extent of the opposition to Novotný and thus supported his removal as Czechoslovakia’s leader. Dubček replaced Novotný as First Secretary on 5 January 1968. On 22 March 1968, Novotný resigned his presidency and was replaced by Ludvík Svoboda, who later gave consent to the reforms.
Liberalization and reform
Early signs of change were few. When the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ) Presidium member Josef Smrkovský was interviewed in a Rudé Právo article, entitled “What Lies Ahead”, he insisted that Dubček’s appointment at the January Plenum would further the goals of socialism and maintain the working class nature of the Communist Party.
On the 20th anniversary of Czechoslovakia’s “Victorious February“, Dubček delivered a speech explaining the need for change following the triumph of socialism. He emphasized the need to “enforce the leading role of the party more effectively” and acknowledged that, despite Klement Gottwald‘s urgings for better relations with society, the Party had too often made heavy-handed rulings on trivial issues. Dubček declared the party’s mission was “to build an advanced socialist society on sound economic foundations … a socialism that corresponds to the historical democratic traditions of Czechoslovakia, in accordance with the experience of other communist parties …”
In April, Dubček launched an “Action Programme” of liberalizations, which included increasing freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and freedom of movement, with economic emphasis on consumer goods and the possibility of a multiparty government. The programme was based on the view that “Socialism cannot mean only liberation of the working people from the domination of exploiting class relations, but must make more provisions for a fuller life of the personality than any bourgeois democracy.” It would limit the power of the secret police and provide for the federalization of the ČSSR into two equal nations. The programme also covered foreign policy, including both the maintenance of good relations with Western countries and cooperation with the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc nations. It spoke of a ten year transition through which democratic elections would be made possible and a new form of democratic socialism would replace the status quo.
Those who drafted the Action Programme were careful not to criticize the actions of the post-war Communist regime, only to point out policies that they felt had outlived their usefulness. For instance, the immediate post-war situation had required “centralist and directive-administrative methods” to fight against the “remnants of the bourgeoisie.” Since the “antagonistic classes” were said to have been defeated with the achievement of socialism, these methods were no longer necessary. Reform was needed, for the Czechoslovak economy to join the “scientific-technical revolution in the world” rather than relying on Stalinist-era heavy industry, labour power, and raw materials. Furthermore, since internal class conflict had been overcome, workers could now be duly rewarded for their qualifications and technical skills without contravening Marxism-Leninism. The Programme suggested it was now necessary to ensure important positions were “filled by capable, educated socialist expert cadres” in order to compete with capitalism.
Although it was stipulated that reform must proceed under KSČ direction, popular pressure mounted to implement reforms immediately. Radical elements became more vocal: anti-Soviet polemics appeared in the press (after the formal abolishment of censorship on 26 June 1968), the Social Democrats began to form a separate party, and new unaffiliated political clubs were created. Party conservatives urged repressive measures, but Dubček counselled moderation and re-emphasized KSČ leadership. At the Presidium of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia in April, Dubček announced a political programme of “socialism with a human face”. In May, he announced that the Fourteenth Party Congress would convene in an early session on 9 September. The congress would incorporate the Action Programme into the party statutes, draft a federalization law, and elect a new Central Committee.
Dubček’s reforms guaranteed freedom of the press, and political commentary was allowed for the first time in mainstream media. At the time of the Prague Spring, Czechoslovak exports were declining in competitiveness, and Dubček’s reforms planned to solve these troubles by mixing planned and market economies. Within the party, there were varying opinions on how this should proceed; certain economists wished for a more mixed economy while others wanted the economy to remain mostly socialist. Dubček continued to stress the importance of economic reform proceeding under Communist Party rule.
On 27 June Ludvík Vaculík, a leading author and journalist, published a manifesto titled The Two Thousand Words. It expressed concern about conservative elements within the KSČ and so-called “foreign” forces. Vaculík called on the people to take the initiative in implementing the reform programme. Dubček, the party Presidium, the National Front, and the cabinet denounced this manifesto.
Publications and media
Dubcek’s relaxation of censorship ushered in a brief period of freedom of speech and the press. The first tangible manifestation of this new policy of openness was the production of the previously hard-line communist weekly Literarni noviny, renamed Literarni listy. The paper, which was published by the Writers’ Union, had been filled with party loyalists under Novotny. After Dubcek assumed power, however, the scholar Eduard Goldstucker became the chairman of the union and thus editor-in-chief of the paper. It was under Goldstucker that the name was changed, and on 29 February 1968, the Writers’ Union published the first copy of the censor-free Literarni listy. By August 1968, Literarni listy had a circulation of 300,000, making it the most published periodical in Europe.
Goldstucker tested the boundaries of Dubcek’s devotion to freedom of the press when he appeared on a television interview as the new head of the union. On 4 February, in front of the entire nation, he openly criticized Novotny, exposing all of Novotny’s previously unreported policies and explaining how they were preventing progress in Czechoslovakia. When asked about the name change, he responded that it was necessary due to the corruption it suffered at the hands of Novotny. Despite the official government statement that allowed for freedom of the press, this was the first trial of whether or not Dubcek was serious about reforms. Goldstucker suffered no repercussions, and Dubcek instead began to build a sense of trust among the media, the government, and the citizens.
Freedom of the press also opened the door for the first honest look at Czechoslovakia’s past by Czechoslovakia’s people. Many of the investigations centered on the country’s history under communism, especially in the instance of Joseph Stalin’s regime of terror. In another television appearance, Goldstucker presented both doctored and undoctored photographs of former communist leaders who had been purged, imprisoned, or executed and thus erased from communist history. The Writer’s Union also formed a committee in April 1968, headed by the poet Jaroslav Seifert, to investigate the persecution of writers after the Communist takeover in February 1948 and rehabilitate the literary figures into the Union, bookstores and libraries, and the literary world. Discussions on the current state of communism and abstract ideas such as freedom and identity were also becoming more common; soon, non-party publications began appearing, such as the trade union daily Prace (Labour). This was also helped by the Journalists Union, which by March 1968 had already convinced the Central Publication Board, the government censor, to allow editors to receive uncensored subscriptions for foreign papers, allowing for a more international dialogue around the news.
The press, the radio, and the television also contributed to these discussions by hosting meetings where students and young workers could ask questions of writers such as Goldstucker, Pavel Kohout, and Jan Prochazka and political victims such as Josef Smrkovský, Zdenek Hejzlar, and Gustav Husak. Television also broadcast meetings between former political prisoners and the communist leaders from the secret police or prisons where they were held. Most importantly, this new freedom of the press and the introduction of television into the lives of everyday Czechoslovak citizens moved the political dialogue from the intellectual to the popular sphere.
Initial reaction within the Communist Bloc was mixed. Hungary‘s János Kádár was highly supportive of Dubček’s appointment in January, but Leonid Brezhnev and others grew concerned about Dubček’s reforms, which they feared might weaken the position of the Communist Bloc during the Cold War.
At a 23 March meeting in Dresden in East Germany, leaders of “Warsaw Five” (USSR, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria and East Germany) questioned a Czechoslovak delegation over the planned reforms, suggesting any talk of “democratization” was a veiled critique of other policies. Władysław Gomułka and Janos Kádár were less concerned with the reforms themselves than with the growing criticisms leveled by the Czechoslovak media, and worried the situation might be “similar to the prologue of the Hungarian counterrevolution“. Some of the language in April’s KSČ Action Programme may have been chosen to assert that no counter-revolution was planned, but Kieran Williams suggests that Dubček was perhaps surprised at, but not resentful of, Soviet suggestions.
The Soviet leadership tried to stop, or limit, the changes in the ČSSR through a series of negotiations. The Soviet Union agreed to bilateral talks with Czechoslovakia in July at Čierna nad Tisou, near the Slovak-Soviet border. At the meeting, Dubček defended the proposals of the reformist wing of the KSČ while pledging commitment to the Warsaw Pact and Comecon. The KSČ leadership, however, was divided between vigorous reformers (Josef Smrkovský, Oldřich Černík, and František Kriegel) who supported Dubček, and conservatives (Vasil Biľak, Drahomír Kolder, and Oldřich Švestka) who adopted an anti-reformist stance.
Brezhnev decided on compromise. The KSČ delegates reaffirmed their loyalty to the Warsaw Pact and promised to curb “anti-socialist” tendencies, prevent the revival of the Czechoslovak Social Democratic Party, and control the press more effectively. The Soviets agreed to withdraw their armed forces (still in Czechoslovakia after manoeuvres that June) and permit the 9 September Party Congress.
On 3 August representatives from the “Warsaw Five” and Czechoslovakia met in Bratislava and signed the Bratislava Declaration. The declaration affirmed unshakable fidelity to Marxism-Leninism and proletarian internationalism and declared an implacable struggle against “bourgeois” ideology and all “anti-socialist” forces. The Soviet Union expressed its intention to intervene in a Warsaw Pact country if a “bourgeois” system—a pluralist system of several political parties representing different factions of the capitalist class—was ever established. After the Bratislava conference, the Soviet Army left Czechoslovak territory but remained along its borders.
As these talks proved unsatisfactory, the Soviets began to consider a military alternative. The Soviet Union’s policy of compelling the socialist governments of its satellite states to subordinate their national interests to those of the “Eastern Bloc” (through military force if needed) became known as the Brezhnev Doctrine. On the night of 20–21 August 1968, Eastern Bloc armies from four Warsaw Pact countries – the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Poland and Hungary—invaded the ČSSR.
That night, 200,000 troops and 2,000 tanks entered the country. They first occupied the Ruzyně International Airport, where air deployment of more troops was arranged. The Czechoslovak forces were confined to their barracks, which were surrounded until the threat of a counter-attack was assuaged. By the morning of 21 August Czechoslovakia was occupied.
Neither Romania nor Albania took part in the invasion, the latter having withdrawn from the Warsaw Pact in 1962. During the invasion by the Warsaw Pact armies, 72 Czechs and Slovaks were killed (19 of those in Slovakia), 266 severely wounded and another 436 slightly injured. Alexander Dubček called upon his people not to resist. Nevertheless, there was scattered resistance in the streets. Road signs in towns were removed or painted over—except for those indicating the way to Moscow. Many small villages renamed themselves “Dubcek” or “Svoboda”; thus, without navigational equipment, the invaders were often confused.
Although, on the night of the invasion the Czechoslovak Presidium declared that Warsaw Pact troops had crossed the border without the knowledge of the ČSSR government, the Soviet Press printed an unsigned request – allegedly by Czechoslovak party and state leaders – for “immediate assistance, including assistance with armed forces”. At the 14th KSČ Party Congress (conducted secretly, immediately following the intervention), it was emphasized that no member of the leadership had invited the intervention. More recent evidence suggests that conservative KSČ members (including Biľak, Švestka, Kolder, Indra, and Kapek) did send a request for intervention to the Soviets. The invasion was followed by a previously unseen wave of emigration, which was stopped shortly thereafter. An estimated 70,000 fled immediately with an eventual total of some 300,000.
The Soviets attributed the invasion to the “Brezhnev Doctrine” which stated that the U.S.S.R. had the right to intervene whenever a country in the Eastern Bloc appeared to be making a shift towards capitalism. There is still some uncertainty, however, as to what provocation, if any, occurred to make the Warsaw Pact armies invade. The days leading up to the invasion was a rather calm period without any major events taking place in Czechoslovakia.
Reactions to the invasion
In Czechoslovakia, especially in the week immediately following the invasion, popular opposition was expressed in numerous spontaneous acts of nonviolent resistance. On 19 January 1969, student Jan Palach set himself on fire in Prague’s Wenceslas Square to protest against the renewed suppression of free speech. Civilians purposely gave wrong directions to invading soldiers, while others identified and followed cars belonging to the secret police.
The generalized resistance caused the Soviet Union to abandon its original plan to oust the First Secretary. Dubček, who had been arrested on the night of 20 August was taken to Moscow for negotiations. There, he and several other leaders signed, under heavy psychological pressure from Soviet politicians, the Moscow Protocol and it was agreed that Dubček would remain in office and a programme of moderate reform would continue.
On 25 August citizens of the Soviet Union who did not approve of the invasion protested in Red Square; eight protesters opened banners with anti-invasion slogans. The demonstrators were arrested and later punished; the protest was dubbed “anti-Soviet”.
A more pronounced effect took place in Romania, where Nicolae Ceauşescu, Prime Secretary of the Romanian CP, already a staunch opponent of Soviet influences and a self-declared Dubček supporter, gave a public speech in Bucharest on the day of the invasion, depicting Soviet policies in harsh terms. Albania withdrew from the Warsaw Pact in opposition calling the invasion an act of “social-imperialism“. In Finland, a country under some Soviet political influence, the occupation caused a major scandal.
Like the Italian and French Communist parties, the Communist Party of Finland denounced the occupation. Nonetheless, Finnish president Urho Kekkonen was the very first Western politician to officially visit Czechoslovakia after August 1968; he received the highest Czechoslovakian honours from the hands of President Ludvík Svoboda, on 4 October 1969. The Portuguese communist secretary-general Álvaro Cunhal was one of few political leaders from western Europe to have supported the invasion for being counterrevolutionary. along with the Luxembourg party and conservative factions of the Greek party.
Most countries offered only vocal criticism following the invasion. The night of the invasion, Canada, Denmark, France, Paraguay, the United Kingdom and the United States requested a meeting of the United Nations Security Council. At the meeting, the Czechoslovak ambassador Jan Muzik denounced the invasion. Soviet ambassador Jacob Malik insisted the Warsaw Pact actions were “fraternal assistance” against “antisocial forces”.
The next day, several countries suggested a resolution condemning the intervention and calling for immediate withdrawal. Eventually, a vote was taken with ten members supporting the motion; Algeria, India, and Pakistan abstained; the USSR (with veto power) and Hungary opposed. Canadian delegates immediately introduced another motion asking for a UN representative to travel to Prague and work toward the release of the imprisoned Czechoslovak leaders.
By 26 August a new Czechoslovak representative requested the whole issue be removed from the Security Council’s agenda. Shirley Temple Black visited Prague in August 1968 to prepare for becoming the US Ambassador for a free Czechoslovakia. However, after the 21 August invasion she became part of a U.S. Embassy-organized convoy of vehicles that evacuated U.S. citizens from the country. In August 1989, she returned to Prague as U.S. Ambassador, three months before the Velvet Revolution that ended 41 years of Communist rule.
Husák reversed Dubček’s reforms, purged the party of its liberal members, and dismissed from public office professional and intellectual elites who openly expressed disagreement with the political transformation. Husák worked to reinstate the power of the police authorities and strengthen ties with other socialist nations. He also sought to re-centralize the economy, as a considerable amount of freedom had been granted to industries during the Prague Spring. Commentary on politics was forbidden in mainstream media and political statements by anyone not considered to have “full political trust” were also banned. The only significant change that survived was the federalization of the country, which created the Czech Socialist Republic and the Slovak Socialist Republic in 1969.
In 1987, the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev acknowledged that his liberalizing policies of glasnost and perestroika owed a great deal to Dubček’s “socialism with a human face”. When asked what the difference was between the Prague Spring and Gorbachev’s own reforms, a Foreign Ministry spokesman replied, “Nineteen years.” With the fall of socialism in 1989, Dubček became chairman of the federal assembly under the Havel administration. He later lead the Social Democratic Party of Slovakia, and spoke against the dissolution of Czechoslovakia prior to his death in November 1992.
Normalization and censorship
The Warsaw Pact invasion included attacks on media establishments, such as Radio Prague and Czechoslovak Television, almost immediately after the initial tanks rolled into Prague on 21 August. While both the radio station and the television station managed to hold out for at least enough time for initial broadcasts of the invasion, what the Soviets did not attack by force they attacked by reenacting party censorship. In reaction to the invasion, on 28 August 1968, all Czechoslovak publishers agreed to halt production of newspapers for the day to allow for a “day of reflection” for the editorial staffs. Writers and reporters agreed with Dubcek to support a limited reinstitution of the censorship office, as long as the institution was to only last three months. Finally, by September 1968, the Czechoslovak Communist Party plenum was held to instate the new censorship law. In the words of the Moscow-approved resolution, “The press, radio, and television are first of all the instruments for carrying into life the policies of the Party and state.”
While this was not yet the end of the media’s freedom after the Prague Spring, it was the beginning of the end. During November, the Presidium, under Husak, declared that the Czechoslovak press could not make any negative remarks about the Soviet invaders or they would risk violating the agreement they had come to at the end of August. When the weeklies Reporter and Politika responded harshly to this threat, even going so far as to not so subtly criticize the Presidium itself in Politika, the government banned Reporter for a month, suspended Politika indefinitely, and prohibited any political programs from appearing on the radio or television.
The intellectuals were stuck at a bypass; they recognized the government’s increasing normalization, but they were unsure whether to trust that the measures were only temporary or demand more. For example, still believing in Dubcek’s promises for reform, Milan Kundera published the article “Cesky udel” (Our Czech Destiny) in Literarni listy on 19 December. He wrote: “People who today are falling into depression and defeatism, commenting that there are not enough guarantees, that everything could end badly, that we might again end up in a marasmus of censorship and trials, that this or that could happen, are simply weak people, who can live only in illusions of certainty.”
In March 1969, however, the new Soviet-backed Czechoslovakian government instituted full censorship, effectively ending the hopes that normalization would lead back to the freedoms enjoyed during the Prague Spring. A declaration was presented to the Presidium condemning the media as co-conspirators against the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact in their support of Dubcek’s liberalization measures. Finally, on 2 April 1969, the government adopted measures “to secure peace and order” through even stricter censorship, forcing the people of Czechoslovakia to wait until the thawing of Eastern Europe for the return of a free media.
The Prague Spring deepened the disillusionment of many Western leftists with Marxist-Leninist views. It contributed to the growth of Eurocommunist ideas in Western communist parties, which sought greater distance from the Soviet Union, and eventually led to the dissolution of many of these groups. A decade later, a period of Chinese political liberalization became known as the Beijing Spring. It also partly influenced the Croatian Spring in Yugoslavia. In a 1993 Czech survey, 60% of those surveyed had a personal memory linked to the Prague Spring while another 30% were familiar with the events in another form. The demonstrations and regime changes taking place in North Africa and the Middle East from December 2010 have frequently been referred to as an “Arab Spring“.
The event has been referenced in popular music, including the music of Karel Kryl, Luboš Fišer‘s Requiem, and Karel Husa‘s Music for Prague 1968. The Israeli song “Prague”, written by Shalom Hanoch and performed by Arik Einstein at the Israel Song Festival of 1969, was a lamentation on the fate of the city after the Soviet invasion and mentions Jan Palach‘s Self-immolation. “They Can’t Stop The Spring“, a song by Irish journalist and songwriter John Waters, represented Ireland in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2007. Waters has described it as “a kind of Celtic celebration of the Eastern European revolutions and their eventual outcome”, quoting Dubček’s alleged comment: “They may crush the flowers, but they can’t stop the Spring.”
The Prague Spring is featured in several works of literature. Milan Kundera set his novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being during the Prague Spring. It follows the repercussions of increased Soviet presence and the dictatorial police control of the population. A film version was released in 1988. The Liberators, by Viktor Suvorov, is an eyewitness description of the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, from the point of view of a Soviet tank commander. Rock ‘n’ Roll, a play by award-winning playwright Tom Stoppard, references the Prague Spring, as well as the 1989 Velvet Revolution. Heda Margolius Kovály also ends her memoir Under a Cruel Star with a first hand account of the Prague Spring and the subsequent invasion, and her reflections upon these events.
In film there has been an adaptation of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, and also the movie Pelíšky from director Jan Hřebejk and screenwriter Petr Jarchovský, which depicts the events of the Prague Spring and ends with the invasion by the Soviet Union and their allies. The Czech musical film, Rebelové from Filip Renč, also depicts the events, the invasion and subsequent wave of emigration.
The number 68 has become iconic in the former Czechoslovakia. Hockey player Jaromír Jágr, whose grandfather died in prison during the rebellion, wears the number because of the importance of the year in Czechoslovak history. A former publishing house based in Toronto, 68 Publishers, that published books by exiled Czech and Slovak authors, took its name from the event.
- ^ Czech radio broadcasts 18–20 August 1968
- ^ Williams (1997), p 170
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- ^ See Paul Chan, “Fearless Symmetry” Artforum International vol. 45, March 2007.
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- ^ Skilling (1976)
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Prague Spring|
- Think Quest – The Prague Spring 1968
- Radio Free Europe – A Chronology Of Events Leading To The 1968 Invasion
- Prague Life – More information on the Prague Spring
- The Prague Spring, 40 Years On – slideshow by The First Post
- Victims of the Invasion – A list of victims from the Warsaw Pact Invasion with method of death
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