Dashed Hopes and Extremism in Tunisia

Issue Date January 2018
Volume 29
Issue 1
Page Numbers 126-40
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Since 2011, the Tunisian government has carried out the most successful democratic transition of the Arab Spring. Yet during this same period, acts of domestic terrorism grew significantly. This development contradicts a prominent belief that democratization should produce declining levels of radicalization. This paper argues that Tunisia’s 2011 revolution created a combustible combination of unmanaged social expectations, declining institutional capability, and persistent socioeconomic grievances. Within a governance vacuum and amid regional turmoil, the violent religious extremism propagated by ISIS and other jihadist groups has, for some Tunisians, replaced hopelessness with a sense of identity and purpose.