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Tunisia: Bloggers Join Election Race

This post is part of our special coverage Tunisia Revolution 2011.

Tunisians will head to the polls to elect a national constituent assembly which will be in charge of writing their country's new constitution on October 23, 2011.

This year's election is different from the previous ones which used to end up with Ben Ali's party often winning about 90 per cent of the votes. In this year's election the competition seems fierce and the results are expected to be so close.

After the fall of the former regime, restrictions on running for the election were loosened. According to the Independent Commission for the Election, 1,700 electoral lists inside and outside the country will compete for 218 seats in the constituent assembly.

Seven bloggers decided to join the election race.

Adib Samoud. Picture from His Photography Facebook Page

Adib Samoud:

A young photographer, a veterinarian and an advocate for the environment. Mr. Samoud presides an independent list called “عيون حريصة” [Watchful Eyes]. He is eager to establish an ECO constitution where inalienable rights to nature are protected.

Amira Yahyaoui Picture from sawtmostakel.com

Amira Yahyaoui (@Mira404):

The 27-year-old is head of an independent electoral list in France, called “Sawt Mostakel” (An Independent Voice). Amira is a human rights activist and fought against censorship during the regime of Ben Ali. She says [fr] about her candidacy:

Jusqu’alors, mon engagement politique en Tunisie se faisait dans l’opposition. Aujourd’hui je veux proposer et construire. Je suis tête de liste de Sawt Mostakel, avec un réel projet que je suis prête à aller défendre à la Constituante

Until now my political involvement in Tunisia was among the opposition. Today, I want to propose and build. I'm head of the list “Sawt Mostakel,” with a real project which I'm ready to defend in the constituent assembly

Imen Braham. Picture: sawtmostakel.com

Imen Braham (@__Imen):

An agronomist engineer, and an advocate for the environment who believes in open government. Mostly known as Moonsgirl, the 28-year-old is like Amira Yahyaoui, a candidate on the electoral list “Sawt Mostakel.”

Imen Braham says [fr]:

Les jeunes doivent s’engager dans la vie politique puisque c’est notre avenir qu’on décide aujourd’hui avec cette assemblée. Être cinquième de la liste Sawt Mostakel constitue pour moi le meilleur moyen d’afficher mon engagement pour les valeurs de la liste et de défendre notre vision d’une Tunisie où le citoyen prend le pouvoir.

Young people have to get involved in the political life. With this assembly we are deciding our future. Being fifth on the electoral list “Sawt Mostakel”, is for me the best way to show my commitment to the values of the list, and to defend our vision for a Tunisia where the citizen is power.

Mehdi Lamloum. Picture from his Twitter Profile

Mehdi Lamloum (@MehdiLamloum):

A digital planner and a video blogger. He mostly, uses his blog Pink Lemon to talk about digital communication, Internet, and media. Emna El Hammi writes [fr] about Mr. Lamloum:

D’autres blogueurs ont choisi, contre toute attente, de faire leur entrée sur la scène politique et d’afficher publiquement leur engagement malgré leur silence pendant les années où les voix manquaient. Ces blogueurs qui s’autocensuraient au temps de Ben Ali, par fatalisme ou par peur, veulent aujourd’hui saisir cette opportunité de participer à la construction d’une Tunisie à leur image. C’est le cas du blogueur Mehdi Lamloum, dont le blog Pink Lemon est une référence dans le domaine du webmarketing et de la communication

Other bloggers chose, against all odds, to enter the political scene, and get involved despite their silence for years, at a time when there was a lack of voices. These bloggers who, out of fear, censored themselves during the rule of Ben Ali, want today to seize this opportunity and participate in the building of the Tunisia they picture. This is the case for Mehdi Lamloum, whose blog Pink Lemon is a reference in webmarketing and communication

Riadh Guerfali Picture from his Twitter Profile

Riadh Guerfali (@Astrubaal):

The co-admin of the collective blog Nawaat has a Phd in Public law. Mr Guerfali has a wide knowledge of the constitutional rights and the political institutions. During the rule of Ben Ali, he often used his blog Astrubal to reveal the former regime's violations of national and international laws, guaranteeing Tunisians the right to have access to information and Internet.

Emna El Hammi writes [fr]:

Riadh Guerfali est non seulement apte à imposer ses idées en matière de protection des libertés individuelles mais possède en plus les outils juridiques nécessaires à l’élaboration de cette nouvelle constitution.

Riadh Guerfali is not only capable of imposing his ideas when it comes to the protection of individual rights, but also has the judicial instruments necessary to the writing of this new constitution

Tarek Kahlaoui (@t_kahlaoui):

Also running for the election as an independent, and head of an electoral list called “Sawt Echabab” (Voice of the Youth). Mr Kahlaoui is a teacher at the History and Art Department of the University of Rutgers University in New Jersey. He is an acdvocate for freedom of speech whose blog was censored in 2010.

On September 8, Tarek announced his candidacy on his Facebook page [ar]:

قررت الترشح لانتخابات المجلس التاسيسي.. . الاستحقاق الانتخابي منعطف تاريخي لتونس.. المساهمة فيه باي شكل مهم لإنجاحه و الترشح احد اشكال هذه المساهمة

I decided to run for the elections of the constituent assembly…The election is a historic turning point for Tunisia… Contributing to it to make it a success is important and running for the election is one way of contribution

Yassine Ayari (@yassayari):

A blogger, and cyber activist. Along with Slim Amamou, Mr Ayari was detained for hours by the police on May 21, 2010, for planning to stage a protest against censorship the day after their arrest. Recently, he wrote a post on his blog [fr] called “I'm not only a blogger” explaining to his readers what blogging means to him:

je ne suis pas “blogueur”, je suis un jeune tunisien, qui pense qu'il a des choses intéressantes a dire et a faire et qui veux participer a construire une meilleure Tunisie. [...] j'aspire a être un homme publique qui a un blog, pas un blogeur qui veux faire la politique,

I'm not a “blogger”, I'm a young Tunisian, who thinks he has interesting things to say and do, and who wants to take part in building a better Tunisia. [...] I yearn to become a public figure who has a blog, and not a blogger who wants to do politics

This post is part of our special coverage Tunisia Revolution 2011.

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