Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dictators that are admired in the West

"Mr Ben Ali, nearly 74, often boasts of running a stable, modestly prosperous, well-educated country, with the Arab world’s most liberal legislation for women’s rights. But democracy is another matter. After his election to a fifth term in October, with 90% of the vote, his fist got tighter than usual. Amnesty International says that dissidents are held in dire conditions; those still free are constantly harassed. According to the human-rights body, security agents infiltrate opposition groups to take control of them, stifling open politics. Moreover, according to a book published last year in France but banned in Tunisia, Mr Ben Ali’s family and influential wife, Leila Trabelsi, own a number of lucrative monopolies that hamper the free market.The press is weak too. The state filters the internet, often confiscates editions of newspapers that dare publish dissident views, and jails independent journalists such as Fahem Boukadous, who was sentenced this month to four years in prison for reporting worker unrest in the mining region of Gafsa in 2008." (thanks Khelil)