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Broadcast Journalist and Multimedia Producer based in Paris, France

Tunisian blogger Slim Amamou calls for post-revolutionary new world order

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Amamou at L'engagement 2.0, Le Grand Salon de la Sorbonne, Paris

Tunisian blogger Slim Amamou was in Paris on Tuesday to debate the use of social networks during the Tunisian revolt, and the future of politics shaped by online activism. Amamou, the former Tunisian Secretary of State for Youth and Sport, joined four other bloggers who played a key role in the Tunisian revolution for a conference focused on the role technology played in the country’s uprising. The event, hosted by Jeannette Bougrab, the French Secretary of State for Youth and Community, comes as political parties in Tunisia and the country’s electoral commission debate over the timetable for elections. On Monday the Progressist Democratic Party and the Islamist Ennahda movement conceded a possible delay for the vote. Organisers of the ballot would like to see it moved to October.

Interview: Slim Amamou, Tunisian blogger

Radio France Internationale

What do you think about the situation in Tunisia at the moment ?

I think the situation is post-revolutionary, there are a lot of events every day. Everything changes all the time – a lot of political activities – everything is in construction. So, we’re heading to elections in July probably. The committee which is in charge of the elections said it’s probably better to have the elections in October. So there is a controversy about that.

Do you think they should be held in October, or do you think they should be held in July?

The nearest date is better, but it’s the committee which is responsible for the elections. You can’t give responsibility to someone and at the same time give them dates. We have to negotiate with them.

The government recently came out with a report which said that a quarter of all Tunisians were in poverty.

This is important because the data, which was there before, was inaccurate. So we didn’t know how much poverty we had. And now we know. We have more accurate data. For the Tunisians – shocking. We knew that there was tampering with the statistics, but we didn’t know it was so significant.

Do you think France should be more doing more for Tunisian immigrants?

No, not especially for Tunisian immigrants, I think France should do more for immigrants in general. It’s an ethical problem. Freedom of movement is a human right. People should be able to freely move from one country to another. There is an ancestral history of immigration nomad-ism. It’s something that has been very important through history. For a period of history the sedentary societies, let’s say, the model, has won. And now the world is moving. We see a lot of people working, especially in the technology sector, who are nomads, again. Because of the internet, because it’s now easy to work from anywhere in the world – it’s a new way of living, which is emerging again – nomad-ism. I think it’s something we should adapt to. We should give the freedom to anyone to move, to be anywhere. There should be a new world order that permits this kind of nomad-ism.

What’s the next step in the Tunisia revolution?

Of course – the elections – we have to rally everybody, we have to convince everybody to go and vote. So that it’s really representative for the constitutional assembly which will rewrite our constitution. We have to have transparency mechanisms, because the problem with having representatives is, once you’ve elected someone you can never be sure he will do what you want. Keep an eye on them – the solution is total transparency.

Ben Ali remains in exile. Do you think he should be brought to justice?

Yes, of course. But we should remove the death penalty.

At this event, called L’engagement 2.0, there were a number of old French diplomats with greying hair at the front, with the young people at the back of the room. Do you think that’s right?

No. I think young people should be in the front. But the setting is not important.

For young French people, do you think they should follow the example of Tunisia? In using social networking tools and the internet?

Yes, they should use those tools to organise, to build a new society, using new technology. But I think they should find their way using this. Like we found our way using those technologies, they should find theirs.

We’ve seen the use of Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, and various social media platforms, the so-called Web 2.0. Where do you see the use of new technology going next, in a social setting?

I think the technology, the social networks, are infrastructure for building societies, so we will be able to do everything we do in real life, online. Most of the social activity is about communication. We have the technology to sustain. Because there was a lack of communication before because of the emergence of big cities. Before, when there were villages with various small numbers of people, people just talked to each other. Now it’s not possible anymore. But now with new technology it’s again possible to talk to each other and I think it will sustain new kinds of societies, without boundaries, without frontiers. It has been illustrated in the Tunisian revolution. During the revolution people from all around the world participated. People started protests in Cairo, in support of Tunisia. In the first days of the revolution, people participated from France, from all over the world – in the attacks of Anonymous on government websites – a new kind of protest. There’s a lot of examples of this new kind of citizenship. I consider all those people citizens of the new Tunisia.

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