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Book Sections Year : 2018

Nahda and Tunisian Islamic Activism


This chapter examines the transformation of the mainstream Islamist party in Tunisia during the period 2011–16. As the country went through a period of dramatic political transformation, the party had to deal with a large mobilised Islamic public. Nahda is the historical Tunisian Islamist party and its origins date back to 1972. It started as a preaching jamaa (society) but politicised during the 1980s. It was however not given a chance of political participation and the leadership never confronted its constituency with respect to its political transformation. The two challenges for the party after the ousting of Ben Ali in 2011 were facing the nationalist and anti-Islamic elites on the one hand, and a radical Islamist public, its natural constituency, on the other hand. The polarisation of the political landscape between two opposed factions—Islamist and nationalist—in 2012–13 risked causing the party’s strategy of moderation to fail. In this chapter we use the political process approach within Social Movement Theory to establish how political opportunity structures had an influence on the final transformation of Nahda. This chapter contributes to the general topic of the book by arguing that Islamist movements and parties are the most important opposition groups in Tunisia and that they are the main actors in the politics of contention and mobilisation.
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halshs-02424145 , version 1 (22-05-2023)



Fabio Merone, Ester Sigillò, Damiano De Facci. Nahda and Tunisian Islamic Activism. Dara Conduit; Shahram Akbarzadeh. New Opposition in the Middle East, Springer Singapore, pp.177-201, 2018, 978-981-10-8820-9. ⟨10.1007/978-981-10-8821-6_8⟩. ⟨halshs-02424145⟩
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