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Slim Amamou | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The news of the resignation of Tunisian Minister for Youth and Sport Affairs, Slim Amamou, passed by without comment in the media; however the resignation of a figure of Amamou’s stature is something that requires post-revolutionary societies to stop and reflect on its cause and meaning.

Amamou was a blogger and political activist, one of the faces of the independent youth opposition in the Tunisian revolution. He shot to fame through his internet blog, and is one of the founders of the Tunisian Pirate Party. He was imprisoned during the Jasmine Revolution that brought the era of former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to an end.

Amamou emerged from prison and was surprised to find himself appointed as a minister in the transitional government that was established to lead the country to parliamentary elections. At the time, Amamou had no political affiliation, but his appointment appeared to be a nod towards the Tunisian “internet” youth, whose revolution inspired millions, and marked the beginning of the Arab Spring.

After just a few months in this important official position, Amamou announced his resignation a few days ago because “this political role is not for me”, according to his Twitter feed. It is worth noting that Amamou had objected to a return to internet censorship, after the authorities decided to close four websites at the request of the Tunisian army.

This was the same reason that first prompted Amamou to become an activist before the revolution, to put an end to state coercion, and ensure the existence of a free press, whether we are talking about the traditional press or the internet.

Amamou’s appointment and subsequent resignation a few months later reflects the turmoil being experienced by post-revolution societies today. There is an ongoing clash in Tunisia and Egypt, between those who have become known as the “youth” and between the forces of the former regime. This clash can be observed in the many different issues and points of contention being raised between different groups in both Egypt and Tunisia.

The transition towards comprehensive democracy is still a lengthy process, and it seems it will encounter many pitfalls. It appears that a break with the past, both in terms of ideology and practice, is something that has yet to be accomplished on many levels.

A prominent young leader leaving the world of modern communication to join political life does not seem possible, at least at the current juncture. The gap between the traditional political class and the virtual world, which produced revolutionaries, still exists, and it is inconceivable that this is something that can be bridged quickly. The task carried out by social networking websites in countries such as Tunisia and Egypt needs to continue in the post-revolution phase, and such tools must find a role in the state building process, after playing such an important part in helping to bring about change.

Amamou’s resignation is a definite setback for the Tunisian experience, for it was this “model” youth who was seen as a bridge between the revolutionary youth and the traditional political elite. His resignation represents a victory for the old regime, which may no longer be a political regime but continues to have a social and psychological influence on Tunsia.

Perhaps Amamou and his generation will now look towards implementing creative strategies in order to finally put an end to the mentality of a bygone era.

After all, those who accomplished the Jasmine Revolution will not be defeated by a few pitfalls!