Tunis (AsiaNews) – Reactions in the Tunisian capital to the announcement that the National Dialogue Quartet* received the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize are enthusiastic, among both Muslims and Christians, ranging from “Good news! A great honour for Tunisia!" and "An important recognition for the path taken by the country thanks to civil society" to a sign of hope "for the entire Arab and Muslim world".
The group has been credited with stopping the country from sliding into civil war and laying down that path that led to the adoption of a liberal constitution and democracy.
For Father Jawad Alamat, Carthage’s parish priest and director of the Pontifical Mission Works, the Nobel Prize is "an award for Tunisia, where the Arab Spring began, which has not always had good results in other places."
“It is an encouragement for all the efforts [put in] to build a society that respects human rights and democracy,” he added. “We should not forget that Tunisia is the only country with a Muslim majority that defends freedom of conscience.”
"I think this award can be seen as a message for the whole of North Africa and the Middle East,” Fr Jawad said. “Dialogue between all sectors of society to build a democratic society is possible. What is more, it is a boost to all Muslim nations. In view of the [current] situation, these nations are often seen as a cauldron of violence and problems, and are marginalised."
“I am happy because the award was also given to the lawyers’ association,” said Majed Ali Hajj, 39, a lawyer and independent political activist. “It shows the important role played by Tunisia’s civil society during and after the revolution in generating a consensus among all social groups."
Only a few months ago, terrorist attacks at the Bardo Museum and on a Sousse beach sent shockwaves across Tunisia. The country is still working hard to overcome its many challenges; however, for Majed, the Award "is a breath of fresh air amid all the social and economic problems we have.”
The prize “provides some comfort that we are on the right path, moving in the right direction. With the Nobel Prize, the world is telling us, ‘Bravo!’ And this will be a boost to move faster on the path of democracy and transparency. "
"Democracy and transparency are not present in many Arab and Muslim countries. However, they are not Western values; they are for everyone."
* The National Dialogue Quartet includes four Tunisian civil society organisations, namely the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT, Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail), the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA, Union Tunisienne de l’Industrie, du Commerce et de l’Artisanat), the Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH, La Ligue Tunisienne pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme), and the Tunisian Order of Lawyers (Ordre National des Avocats de Tunisie).