The Introduction reviews the recent history of the Brotherhood, providing the necessary background to understand the significance of the new wave of repression and forced exile that the movement has been facing since 2013. It identifies the post 2013 coup period as a new era in the troubled history of the Brotherhood, arguing that a new analytical approach is needed to fully understand the internal transformations dividing the movement. In order to do so, it engages with the seminal works on social movements, repression and political Islam, arguing that to get a more complete picture of the various forces at play within the Brotherhood after 2013 one needs to shift the analysis to the level of individual members. Doing so allows it to identify the main points of contention that are driving organisational renewal – these being questions around organisational identity, ideology, and the emergence of members’ individual agency.
Chapter 4 expands on the internal debates dividing the movement to focus on the ongoing polarisation around different responses to repression and on competing strategies to move past the current crisis. It shows that a significant novelty of the post-2013 context is represented by the fact that dissenting members, along with those who do not align with the Brotherhood’s official narrative, remain an active part of the movement. These behaviours were punished with expulsion prior to 2011, but the necessity to maintain unity and safety in numbers after the coup mean that the Brotherhood is characterised by an unprecedented diversity of voices and opinions. The chapter traces the development of two main trends to fight against repression: stagnation and adaptation strategies. It shows that the Historical Leadership takes a generally passive approach, treating the current crisis as yet another time of hardship and calling for unity in the face of oppression. This faction remains faithful to the Brotherhood’s historical strategies and refuses to answer the call for internal reforms that would allow the movement to better adapt to exile. On the contrary, the adaptation trend encompasses a wide diversity of voices and competing strategies that argue for a more proactive response to the current crisis. These are informed by the members’ increased agency and by the development of independent thinking against the Brotherhood’s official stance. By providing first-hand accounts of these strategies, the chapter outlines what the main future directions for the movement might be.
Surviving repression tells the story of the Muslim Brotherhood after the 2013 coup. The movement quickly rose to power following the 2011 Arab uprisings, but its premature removal marked the beginning of the harshest repression of its troubled history. Forced into exile, the Brotherhood and its members are faced with the monumental task of having to rebuild a fragmented organisation. The book looks at this new era in the movement’s history through the perspective of individual members, relying on conversations with current and former members from across the generational and organisational spectrums. It puts emphasis on their experiences, perspectives and emotions to better understand how their responses to repression are affecting the movement as a whole. It is the first book to comprehensively address the Brotherhood’s trajectories after the 2013 coup, and to examine the external and internal challenges it faces while trying to rebuild in exile. Surviving repression offers an invaluable insight into the main strategical, ideological and organisational debates dividing the Brotherhood and reveals that, in order to survive, the movement needs to answer two fundamental challenges. These are: what kind of organisation the Brotherhood wants to be moving forward; and whether or not it is willing to renegotiate the relationship between the movement and its members in order to maximise survival and resilience. Overall, it shows that the main forces driving the Brotherhood’s evolution after 2013 are fundamental questions about organisational identity, its members’ increased agency, and growing calls to reform the movement’s core structures and principles.
Chapter 3 begins by outlining the Brotherhood members’ emerging processes of self-reflection to show how, in the post-2013 context, the battle between members’ individual agency and the Brotherhood’s organizational structure has taken the centre stage. It looks at the reconfiguration of the movement’s leadership ranks in the aftermath of the coup, showing that open competition over leadership and the emergence of warring Guidance Offices reveal yet another layer of internal fragmentation. The chapter traces the sources and development of various dynamics of dissent, to outline the different ways in which individual members experience repression and forced displacement. These experiences directly shape their relationship with the movement and inform their strategies to counter repression, which often clash with the Brotherhood’s official narrative. It therefore outlines the disintegration of the tanzim and identifies the processes that guide the challenging of the movement’s collective identity in favour of agency and individualism. In doing so, it shows that the main grievances guiding these processes have their roots in the pre-revolutionary period and were therefore brought back to the fore by the perceived failure of the political experience. The chapter concludes by arguing that in the dimension of forced exile the biggest challenges the movement has to face are those posed by its own members, and by the growing calls for internal reforms.
The conclusion revisits the findings of the empirical chapters by focusing on the characteristics of transitional justice in process. It therefore highlights their conceptual and argumentative implications. It then goes on to outline the study’s contribution to different knowledge areas. The conclusion shows what the study teaches us about the Tunisian case with its unique political backdrop by providing new empirical insights and a unique perspective on a particular timeframe. It outlines for the field of transitional justice that transitional justice may be political exactly because of its technocratic nature and not despite it, and that there is a problem–capacity nexus in transitional justice: measures that seem to fit the problems to be dealt with in transitional justice processes and that fit the capacities of international transitional justice professionals may not necessarily fit domestic institutions. They run the risk of overburdening them, so that they cannot fulfil the promises transitional justice makes. Thus, more may not always be more in transitional justice, and a holistic approach may therefore not always be the best one – even if the grievances to be addressed are manifold. Finally, the conclusion discusses what we can learn from the study for other cases and for policy. It concludes by identifying potential avenues for future research and gives an outlook for current developments.
This chapter focuses on the shift from ad hoc measures to an institutionalised transitional justice project. A technical committee composed of representatives of civil society and the Ministry for Human Rights and Transitional Justice led a participatory consultation process and drafted a transitional justice law. Which transitional justice measures were introduced was co-determined by the international transitional justice professionals. The broad mandate that emerged from this process mirrored the dominant dogma in transitional justice research and scholarship as well as the political interests of both international and domestic actors. In this stage, the transitional justice process interplayed with unplanned, spontaneous political and social dynamics. The struggles over the constitution-writing process and at times violent protests pushed the topic back on to the political agenda. The National Dialogue then opened the way for the primacy of acute conflict-resolution and elite deal-making over further dismantling the old regime and seeking justice and accountability. The parliament’s decision to retain its prerogative of nominating truth commissioners paved the way for a perception of the Truth and Dignity Commission as a political and partisan body.
The first of three empirical chapters is concerned with those justice measures that were introduced in an ad hoc manner directly after the fall of the Ben Ali regime and the first initiatives for a more structured, institutionalised transitional justice process. This stage was mainly marked by political struggles over the direction of the Tunisian transition and the country’s future political architecture. Speculation about the intentions of ‘the Islamists’ when in power and their potential lack of commitment to democratic values played a decisive role, as well as the question of the future role of old-regime actors. Thus, in this first stage, one can see an intensification of conflict and friction, in a cross-cutting manner, among political and civil society actors. The emergence of new sentiments of injustice through the pursuit of justice and accountability measures played a significant role in this dynamic. The chapter furthermore shows that despite the early efforts at seeking justice and accountability, one can already identify a counter-trend to the pursuit of transitional justice, since there was an unwillingness (or inability) to dismantle ‘the system’ at a deeper level.
In order to set the scene for the book, the introduction begins by briefly recounting the so-called Arab Spring and the fall of the repressive Ben Ali regime in Tunisia. It lays out Tunisia’s prompt efforts to seek justice and accountability and how the much-lauded, comprehensive transitional justice project was developed with international support. It discusses the conflicts the transitional justice process has been embedded in since the beginning, as well as the attempts to hamper the work of the Truth and Dignity Commission, the central transitional justice institution, as the process went forward. The introduction furthermore lays out the fundamental questions addressed in the book and the ideas it is based on, as well as the relevance of studying Tunisia’s transitional justice in process. It situates the case within transitional justice research and introduces the processual heuristic and the arguments. The introduction also gives brief insights into the interpretive research process and methods and introduces a conceptualisation of ‘process-concurrent’ research. It closes with an outline of the remainder of the book.
This chapter provides the historical background to the study and examines Tunisian history from the end of colonialism to the transition following the fall of the Ben Ali regime. It identifies the main societal cleavages and lines of conflict, power structures and changes to them, as well as the nature of the regime that people were rising up against in 2010/11. The chapter fulfils the purpose of outlining what kind of past is dealt with in Tunisia’s transitional justice process while also demonstrating that the Tunisian revolution did not provide a clean slate for transitional justice. It shows that transitional justice is therefore neither neutral nor happening in a historical and political vacuum. In this vein, the chapter first looks at the grievances that emerged from and violations that happened during the independence period and Bourguiba’s rule. It then turns to the systems of power under Ben Ali, outlining how existing grievances were exacerbated and new ones emerged. The chapter also presents possible explanations for the collapse of the regime, as discussed in the academic literature, as well as a discussion of post-revolutionary political developments, power shifts, and frictions. It thereby also outlines the political context after the ruptures of 2011 to better understand the dynamics of transitional justice, the course it takes, the friction the transitional justice project provokes, and the challenges it faces.
This chapter focuses on the planned transitional justice process and its institutions in action. Thus it mainly concentrates on the Truth and Dignity Commission, how it worked and was perceived, as well as the challenges it faced. It shows that the Truth and Dignity Commission had partisan appeal from the very beginning and that its president Sihem Ben Sedrine was a polarising figure. The commission was perceived as a project that would mainly serve Ennahda and its followers. With the elections of 2014 and the changes in government that followed, the political will for seeking accountability declined further and political support for the transitional justice process dwindled. The chapter shows that the difficulties the truth commission experienced in performing its tasks and fulfilling its goals and promises were due to a combination of factors: an overburdening mandate and internal quarrels, as well as external attempts to hamper its work. But this stage also reveals that the institutionalised process developed its own dynamic that allowed it to proceed, to a limited extent, independently of actors and their political preferences. Given the truth commission’s efforts to make transitional justice public and inform and educate wider public opinion, the chapter concludes that the performance of transitional justice in Tunisia may have constitutive consequences by ‘cracking the past open’, even if it did not exactly proceed as it was initially planned. The chapter also covers the last phase of the truth commission, as well as some developments after its mandate ended.