Gates scholar writes for The Guardian

  • December 8, 2010
Gates scholar writes for The Guardian

Rachel Linn writes on Tunisian politics in The Guardian.

Gates scholar Rachel Linn [2008] has written an article for the Guardian calling on the west to support democratic voices in Tunisia and stand up for political freedom.

Rachel, who is doing a PhD in International Studies, wrote on the Comment is Free section of the Guardian of a meeting she had with Nejib Chebbi, the chairman of the Parti Democrate Progressiste (PDP), which she describes as the most credible opposition party in Tunisia, which has been ruled by one party since independence in 1956.

He and Maya Jribi, the PDP secretary-general, had been on hunger strike in protest at the government’s attempt to block publication of the latest issue of the PDP’s newspaper.

Rachel says foreign or domestic journalists who publish material that is seen as critical of the Tunisian government find themselves unable to work in the country and that Tunisians who join unapproved political movements are liable to “find themselves followed by police and quietly dismissed from their job, while their family is harassed and they are perhaps thrown into jail or, worse, tortured”.

She writes: “The government has accomplished pervasive control by constructing a fearsome security apparatus and an extensive system of patronage and bribes that is continually leveraged to maintain the support of those who might otherwise cause problems for the regime, such as judges and the country’s economic elite.”

She says the West tends to regard the country as relatively stable, but states that this “stability” does not run deep. She says it is in the West’s political interests to support democratic movements in Tunisia.

She writes: “If we truly want to improve the brand image of the west in the Muslim world, we ought to consider seriously whether our engagement in such countries is genuinely supporting the best outcome for their populations. Supporting citizens’ desire to pursue their own political aspirations – whatever those may be – by resolutely standing by political freedom would seem a basic start, and something I would argue is the only justifiable option in Tunisia.”

Rachel plans to pursue a career in policy research, specialising in the politics and economics of the Middle East and North Africa. For her PhD she is studying the comparative framing of mainstream Islamist movements in Tunisia and Morocco.

Picture credit: M. Bartosch and www.freedigitalphotos.net

Latest News

Public engagement through children’s stories

An award-winning science communicator and tv presenter who honed his communication skills as a Gates Cambridge Scholar is launching a colourful children’s book about gravity. Dr Niraj Lal’s new children’s book, Henry the Flying Emu, is being launched by well-known science journalist broadcaster Robyn Williams AO, host of the ABC Science Show. The book tells the story […]

Affecting change for the Māori community

Self-determination lies at the centre of Māori culture. “It’s a way of life,” says Chris Tooley. That idea is also at the heart of his PhD studies at Cambridge and his subsequent work in Parliament and in the community. Chris grew up with a strong sense of being part of the Māori community. He has ancestral […]

On the COVID frontline

Three Gates Cambridge scholars who have been on the medical frontline during the COVID-19 pandemic will be speaking about their experiences at a virtual event next weekend. The event, organised by the Gates Cambridge Alumni Association, will be moderated by Elizabeth Dzeng, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco in the […]

New game tackles Covid conspiracies

A new online game that puts players in the shoes of a purveyor of fake pandemic news is the latest tactic in the UK Government’s efforts to tackle the deluge of coronavirus misinformation that is misleading many and costing lives across the world. Launched to the public today, the Go Viral! game has been developed by the […]