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The Role of Political Islam in Tunisia’s Democratization Process: Towards a New Pattern of Secularization?

As far as the discussions on the Muslim world have been concerned with the process of secularization, a major focus has been the question of whether Islam and democracy are compatible. The religious-oppositional-civil movements that have been revived since the 1980s, has prompted a reformulation of the question as follows: “are secularization/laicism and democracy compatible?” or, put differently, “are the enemies of democracy in the Middle East, not the Islamic parties, but the secular regimes” From this perspective, there has been a shift from the dominance of the French type of authoritarian, exclusivist and monopolistic laicism to a pluralistic understanding of secularization, influenced by the resurgence of political Islam in Tunisia after the Jasmine Revolution.

The Role of Political Islam in Tunisia s Democratization Process

Secularization, which is mainly used to explain the relation between modernity and religion in European societies,1has become an indispensable concept in discussions of the recent democratic uprisings in the Muslim world. No analysis of the Arab uprisings can neglect the concepts of Islam, secularization, laicism, modernity, civil society, pluralism, authoritarianism and democracy. We can say that Tunisia is one of the best examples in which all these concepts can be analyzed together in the new era.

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