Tunisia: Blogger and Former Political Prisoner Appointed Minister

This post is part of our special coverage of Tunisia Revolution 2011.

The Tunisian revolution seems to bring an endless daily dose of surprises. Yesterday, the Tunisian Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi, announced the formation of an interim unity government. The transitional government will include members of the opposition but also figures of the old regime. Some key portfolios remain in the hands of ministers who served under ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, including Foreign Affairs, the Interior, Defense and Finance. But perhaps the biggest surprise, especially for netizens, was the announcement of Slim Amamou, blogger, activist and Global Voices contributor, as Secretary of State for Sports and Youth Affairs.

Slim (@Slim404) broke the news on Twitter:

Je suis secrétaire d'état a la Jeunesse et aux sports :)

I am Secretary of State for Youth and Sports :)

In an interview with French Radio, Slim explained that he was approached hours before the new government was announced and that his choice was a natural decision for someone who wants to participate in the building of his country, adding that “it will take Tunisia a least 10 years for a stable democracy to establish itself.”

As soon as the appointment of Slim was made public, reactions on Twitter started pouring in. Along side warm congratulations, reactions were mixed. Some wanted Slim out of the government, others were prepared to grant him the benefit of the doubt.

Lebanese @Antissa (Antoun Issa) writes:

Congrats to @slim404, from detention to ministry in Tunisia. Maybe the next Arab Bloggers Conference should be held in Tunis? #sidibouzid

@TeaCupThrills (i.bushra) replies:

@antissa nothing to congratulate. If anything, he's sold his soul. Seems a little suspicious to me. Alas to each their own

@kikukoloko (Gontran) tweets:

@slim404 J'espere que ton nouveau role en #tunisie ne te montera pas trop a la tete et que tu resteras ce mec bien qui ta amene au poste ;)

@slim404 I just hope your new role in #Tunisia will not make you a big headed person and that you will stay the same guy who made it to this position ;)

Yassine Ayari is Slim's friend and old partner in activism. He posted this video [Ar] in which he addresses Slim and explains why he considers his old friend's decision to join the government unwise. He says:

Slim, you deserve better that that. The people who offered you that post today, have no legitimacy. They are using you to stifle us, Internet activists.

To which Slim Amamou replies on Twitter:

@yassayari je suis pas secrétaire d'etat pour que vous fermiez votre gueule, je suis la pour en prendre plein la gueule avec le gouvt. :)

@yassayari je vais faire mon travail, et je compte sur toi pour ne pas etre d'accord comme d'hab. on a tjrs bien fonctionné comme ca.

@yassayari la variété, la différence il n'y a que ca de bon. on n'a pas l'habitude en Tunisie, mais on s'y fera tres vite ;)

@yassayari I'm not Secretary of State for you to shut your mouths. I was appointed here to challenge the government ;)

@yassayari I will do my job and I count on you to disagree with me as usual. We have always functioned this way.

@yassayari Diversity, difference… these are good things. We're not used to this in Tunisia, but we will get there ;)

Egyptian @mfatta7 (Mohamed Abdelfattah) asks:

@slim404 why have you accepted ur post under this unelected farce government ?

@mariamekea (Mariam) writes:

I don't want to be judgmental, but he just capitulated himself to the regime that had imprisoned him in the first place

To which Moroccan @IbnKafka (Ibn Kafka) replies:

@mariamekea: as he wasn't part of the RCD [Ben Ali's party] prior to the revolution, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt

@ifikra (Sami Ben Gharbia) writes:

As a dear friend, I ask you @slim404 don't accept to collaborate with those who killed Tunisians, stay clean stay citizen #SidiBouzid

Finally, @MehdiLamloum (Mehdi Lamloum) notes:

La nomination de @Slim404 suscite une grande controverse … ça doit être cela qu'on appelle la liberté d'expression et la démocratie…

The appointment of @Slim404 arouses great controversy … this must be what we call freedom of expression and democracy …

This post is part of our special coverage of Tunisia Revolution 2011.


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