April 11: Nadia Marzouki "The Rule of Law vs The Rule of One: Contending Legitimacies in Tunisia since the July 25th Coup"

February 09, 2022


Monday, April 11

time TBA

Contact hclausni@ucsc.edu to request Zoom link and password.


On July 25th, 2021, Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed suspended the country’s democratically elected parliament, and sent military vehicles at Parliament’s door. He argued that Parliament was a threat to the state and was working against the interests of the Tunisian people. On February 7th, 2022, he suspended the Supreme Judicial Council and sent police to lock its doors. Saïed justified this decision by denouncing the alleged corruption of the SJC. Analysts have glossed over the supposedly enduring popularity of such measures and speculated about the weakness and fragmentation of opposition parties. But Saïed’s attempts at embodying and monopolizing political legitimacy in Tunisia have not gone unchallenged. Members of parliament, judges, lawyers, civil society activists have obstinately resisted his attempts at terminating elected institutions and consolidating power. In this talk, I will describe the conflicting legitimacies since 2011 of the “people” and their will on the one hand, and elected institutions and the rule of law on the other. I will detail how these disputes over legitimacy have taken a new, more dangerous, orientation in the aftermath of the July 25th coup. And I will suggest that the role and strategy of the judiciary may have a greater influence than the role and strategy of political parties in determining the outcome of the ongoing political crisis.


Dr Nadia Marzouki is a tenured Research Fellow (chargée de recherche) at the CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique) and Sciences Po in Paris. She received her PhD in political science from Sciences-Po in Paris. Her work examines public controversies about Islam and religious freedom in Europe and the United States. She is also interested in debates about religion, citizenship and democracy in North Africa. She is the author of Islam, an American Religion (Columbia University Press, 2017). She coedited with Olivier Roy Religious Conversions in the Mediterranean World (Palgrave, Macmillan, 2013). She coedited with Olivier Roy and Duncan McDonnell, Saving the People, How Populists Hijack Religion (Oxford University Press, 2017).