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Mohsen Marzouk: "Democracy is a weapon against terrorism"

In an interview with DW, Mohsen Marzouk, general secretary of Tunisia's governing secular Nidaa Tounes party, talked about the multifaceted challenges his country is facing: terror, radicalization, and corruption.

Mohsen Marzouk tunesischer Politiker

Mohsen Marzouk

Tunisian politician Marzouk described this year's attacks by Islamic State (IS) terrorists in Tunisia as acts of war. Marzouk said fighting terrorism was a top priority: "We need multinational cooperation on the issues of intelligence and information sharing. The world needs this, not only Tunisia." He admitted that Tunisian security forces weren't adequately trained for the fight against terror.

According to Marzouk, the radicalization of young Tunisians was a consequence of the Arab Spring: "During these years of democratization, everything was opened up and so any person could come in and recruit people."

Confronted with human rights violations committed by members of the Tunisian police, Marzouk admitted they still occur despite government efforts to introduce reforms. He replied: "Do you think that you can have a new police after revolution in two or three years? (...) It's not easy to move from a totalitarian regime, which lasted for 100 years, to a new paradise."

Marzouk defended the arrest of blogger Yassine Ayari in December 2014, who had criticized the military: "The people who have been arrested were not criticizing the Ministry of Defense; they were making an apology of terrorism. (…) If we are fighting terrorism, the people who are encouraging terrorism or making an apology of terrorism have to be stopped. That's part of the whole war against terrorism."

He said that corruption was another huge problem in Tunisia and that terror groups were closely linked to mafia lobbies: "The link between smugglers and terrorists is clear, on the frontiers and on the border zones."

The government of Béji Caïd Essebsi was struggling to solve the problems, Marzouk told DW: "The state institutions are weak because we are building new institutions." The Tunisian government didn't believe in "less liberties and more security because of terrorism," Marzouk said. "We think that democracy and freedom is an army, is a weapon against terrorism."

Mohsen Marzouk was born in 1965. He studied political sociology and international relations in Tunis. As a human rights activist, he was imprisoned under the former regime. Marzouk was a founding member of Nidaa Tounes, which won the parliamentary elections in October 2014. He is now the party's general secretary.

The full interview will air on DW's "Conflict Zone" on Wednesday, December 2, at 17.30 UTC, and will be available online on demand.

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Christoph Jumpelt

Christoph Jumpelt

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