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In Tunisia: 'We Have No Idea' If Secular Or Islamist Views Will Prevail

Apr 7, 2011 (All Things Considered)

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All Things Considered host Robert Siegel and producer Art Silverman continue their reporting from Tunisia, where the changes that have swept across much of North Africa and the Middle East got their start.

Yesterday, we heard some of the conversation Robert had with Tunisian activist Sihem Bensedrine, who says that in some ways not much has changed since President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was forced to step down in January as protests swelled in Tunisia.

Today, Robert looks at the question of which way the "new" Tunisia might go — toward a secular democracy or toward an Islamist state. And among the people he spoke with was widely read Tunisian blogger Big Trap Boy — a 35-year-old legal consultant named Mohammed.

"Are you as a secular Tunisian confident that people like you ... are in the majority?" Robert asked. "Or is it possible that there are lots of hidden Islamists out there?"

"We have no idea on the real size of the secular part of the population or the Islamist part of the population," Mohammed says.

But he suspects that "many Muslim people [in Tunisia], they are going to follow ... the Islamist parties" because they identify with them.

There will be a problem for some Tunisians, he adds, of knowing "where politics start and where religion ends."

Much more from their conversation, and Robert's interviews with other Tunisians, will be on ATC later today. We'll add the as-broadcast version of his report to this post when it's ready.

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