Jebali: Tunisia revolution 'at a crossroads'

'The worst is to believe that freedom and democracy are not compatible with Islam'

BERLIN - Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali said in Germany Wednesday his country was at a crossroads after last year's ouster of the Ben Ali regime, as the old system had not yet been fully overthrown.
"It is true that we toppled (the dictatorship) because the former president had to flee," Jebali told the DGAP foreign policy think tank. "But the whole system has not yet been overturned."
"The Tunisian revolution is now at a crossroads," he added.
Jebali, who also held talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel Wednesday, said there was "some kind of resistance" by those who would like to turn the clock back to a past heavily marked by corruption.
"Tunisia's biggest danger is the conflict between reactionists and modernists," said Jebali, referring to fundamentalist Salafists.
"The worst is to believe that freedom and democracy are not compatible with Islam," he added.
Jebali, who is the number two in the moderate Islamist Ennahda party, called for a new Marshall plan to help Tunisia meet economic challenges.
"We do not want to beg," he said, while adding Tunisia needed money to improve its infrastructure, notably in regions away from the coast which he said had not seen enough funds for decades.
Investment was also needed in the education sector, administration and renewable energy. Western aid is welcome, he said.
Jebali called on tourists to continue to come to Tunisia after the sector saw revenues plunge by a third last year as the uprising that felled Zine El Abidine Ben Ali forced hotels shut and led to thousands of job losses.
Tourism is a key sector for the country, making up seven percent of its output and directly employing 400,000 people. However, the industry has been struggling to recover from the January 2011 revolution.