Revolution, Reform or Restoration? Nadia Marzouki on Tunisia Today

Tunisia has been very dear to my heart since I went there in the spring of 2013, just two years after its uprisings, an event that shook the world. Although I’ve not been back in the three years since that memorable visit, I’ve followed Tunisian events with great interest from afar. I was thus thrilled to have the opportunity to interview the Tunisian scholar Nadia Marzouki when she was in Denver last month.

Marzouki, a Research Fellow at the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) in Paris, is the author of L’Islam, une religion américaine? (Islam, An American Religion?) and co-editor of two books: Religious Conversions in the Mediterranean World (with Olivier Roy) and the forthcoming Saving the People: How Populists Hijack Religion (with Roy and Duncan McDonnell).

Her father, Moncef Marzouki, is one of Tunisia’s most prominent political figures: imprisoned three times for his human rights activism under the dictatorship in the 1990s, he was elected president following the revolution, in December of 2011, and in 2015 he launched an opposition political party, Al-Irada.

Nadia’s visit to the University of Denver in May was supported by the Marsico Visiting Scholars Program and co-sponsored by the Center for Middle East Studies and the Department of Religious Studies. I conducted this interview for the Middle East Dialogues series.

Special thanks to Diana Aqra, the video’s producer.

Author: Danny Postel

I'm a writer, editor, researcher, and activist. I'm currently Assistant Director of the Center for International & Area Studies at Northwestern University. From 2012 to 2016, I was Associate Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Denver. In Spring 2019 I was Visiting Lecturer in International Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). I'm the author of Reading Legitimation Crisis in Tehran (Prickly Paradigm Press, 2006) and co-editor (with Nader Hashemi) of three books: The People Reloaded: The Green Movement and the Struggle for Iran’s Future (Melville House, 2010), The Syria Dilemma (MIT Press, 2013), and Sectarianization: Mapping the New Politics of the Middle East (Hurst/OUP, 2017). My articles, interviews, and book reviews have appeared in The American Prospect, Boston Review, The Cairo Review of Global Affairs, Constellations: An International Journal of Critical and Democratic Theory, Critical Inquiry, Dædalus (the journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences), Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, Dissent, Global Discourse: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Current Affairs, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, In These Times, Middle East Policy, Middle East Report (MERIP), The Nation, New Politics, the New York Times, The Progressive, Salmagundi, and the Washington Post, among other publications. My work has been translated into Arabic, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbo-Croatian, and Spanish. I taught English as a Foreign Language at St. Augustine College, the Latino Outreach Program of National Louis University, and the Howard Area Community Center (1993-1998), taught Spanish at St. Tarcissus Elementary School, now part of Pope Francis Global Academy (1995-1999), was an editor at Encyclopædia Britannica (1999-2001), a staff writer for The Chronicle of Higher Education (2001-2003), a visiting instructor in the journalism program at Columbia College Chicago (2004), Senior Editor of openDemocracy magazine (2004-2007), Communications Coordinator for the organization Interfaith Worker Justice (2007-2011), Editor of The Common Review, the magazine of the Great Books Foundation (2010-2011), and Communications Specialist for Stand Up! Chicago, a coalition of grassroots groups and labor unions in Chicago (2011-2012).

One thought on “Revolution, Reform or Restoration? Nadia Marzouki on Tunisia Today”

  1. The interview with Nadia Moncif Marzouki was immensely useful in terms of shedding light on what has happened in the country since the heroic revolution against tyranny and despotism. The deeply wounded and traumatized Arab world, especially the people of Syria, Libya, Iraq, and Yemen, could benefit greatly from both the successes and failures of the undoubtedly very profound and admirable way with which the people of Tunisia, including the diverse political forces, have managed the transitional period and the resultant enormous challenges that are facing the country. To its credit, Tunisia was the birth place of the Arab Spring and its success will be the enduring legacy of this noble struggle for freedom and social justice. Tragically, the entrenched forces of despotism in countries like Syia, combined with the conflicting strategic interests of foreign powers (in this case, Obama’s American Administration, Putin’s Russia, Iran’s Ayatollahs and their Lebanese Hezbollah’s mercenaries), have transformed the “noble promise” of the Arab Spring into the “ignoble reality” of mass murder combined with the systematic and deliberate destruction of the country and its priceless historical and cultural heritage. Tunisia’s experience will remain as the luminous light in an otherwise out-of-joint Arab time.

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