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New On The Freedom Collection: Abdel Aziz Belkhodja
Watch the new interview with Abdel Aziz Belkhodja on the Freedom Collection. Belkodja is a Tunisian writer, publisher and democracy advocate. In 2003 he penned a satirical novel called The Return of the Elephant in which he criticized the authoritarian regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Belkhodja’s narrative is set 100 years in the future where Tunisia has become an influential, democratic nation pitted against a tyrannical United States. This fanciful portrayal of the U.S. worked to spotlight the repressive policies being practiced by Ben Ali’s government. Commenting on censorship under Ben Ali, Belkodja said, “Living in Tunisia for a writer who likes politics, who defends his values is very difficult because the censorship was very, very strong…On television it's very strong. On the theater it's less strong. And in books, it's less strong than in the theater because with books, you can't touch more than a few thousand people. But I found a way to circumvent the censor.” Beyond his literary criticism of the Tunisian government, Belkhodja challenged the regime more directly via the Internet. In the midst of the country’s 2010-2011 revolution, he appealed to army, police and government officials to abandon Ben Ali. After the fall of Ben Ali, Belkhodja helped found the Tunisian Republican Party and served as its leader. The Republican Party joined the Democratic Modernist Pole, a coalition of four political parties and several civic initiatives, which ran in Tunisia’s constituent assembly elections in October 2011. Watch his interview here.
This post was written by Christopher Walsh, Program Coordinator of the Freedom Collection.
Christopher Walsh serves as a Manager for the Human Freedom Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute. In this role, Christopher manages communications, evaluation, and public policy research projects that advance freedom and democracy in the world. He also develops and implements efforts to make the Bush Institute a welcoming place for today’s generation of dissidents and democracy advocates, overseeing visits for training, inspiration, and insight.
Prior to joining the Bush Institute, Christopher worked with the International Republican Institute in Washington, D.C. As IRI’s program officer for Central and Eastern Europe, he coordinated political party building and civic advocacy programs in the Balkans and Turkey.
A native of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Christopher is a graduate of American University with a B.A. in International Studies. He currently lives in Dallas with his wife and three young children.Full Bio
Chinese Prisoner’s Death Holds a Message for Americans and China
Liu Xiaobo, China’s most prominent dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner died this week. His death holds a message for Americans and for China.
Release of Chinese Political Prisoner a Timely Reminder to Support Freedom Advocates Abroad
More than half the world’s population still lives in countries where basic political rights and civil liberties are only partly respected, if at all.
Bringing Freedom to the Forefront of 21st Century Politics
Is the global liberal democratic order in danger? Purposefully constructed in the aftermath of World War II, this order -- and the American leadership that is central to its success --has contributed to securing peace and expanding prosperity in the United States and around the world. Today, that order appears to be dissolving. This crisis is not new or sudden; it has been mounting for several years. Global challenges like authoritarian capitalism, violent extremism, demographic pressures, and displaced populations have placed global freedom in decline. Fraying traditional alliances united by core values of freedom are increasingly weak to respond. It is alarming that the downdraft in democratic resilience over the past decade or more includes countries that have long been part of the consolidated democratic West. This is democratic deconsolidation. In much of the Western world, we see a rise in demagogic populism, illiberalism, nationalism, protectionism, and waning conf
The Importance of Speaking Truth to Tyrants
What the president of the United States says matters. Even during the realpolitik policies of détente under Richard Nixon, it was still clear that American policy was based on a set of core values. Nixon’s practical goals of reaching deals with America’s adversaries was never based on the “great chemistry” with himself or praising the Soviet or Communist Chinese leadership doing a “fantastic job.” When the president aligns himself with the autocrats and dictators, he aligns America with their oppression. He sends a message that corruption and brutality are not our concern. Contrast that with how Ronald Reagan defied much of world opinion in calling out the brutality of the Soviet system. Natan Sharansky, then a refusenik imprisoned in a Soviet gulag, later wrote for the Weekly Standard of his thoughts on Reagan’s pronouncement that the USSR was an evil empire: “It was the great, brilliant moment whe