Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Tunisia’s upheaval unlikely to improve situation for believers

Tunisia is experiencing much unrest.
In one month’s time, Tunisia has crumpled.

On December 17, an unemployed graduate set himself on fire. Soon, thousands were in the streets demanding more job opportunities and a higher standard of living, reported Mission Network News yesterday.

Police clashed with the protesters for the next nine days, which fuelled their outrage at the oppressive regime. On December 28, President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali warns protests are unacceptable and those using violence will be punished.

By January 13, the president promised major reforms and not to run for office in 2014. A day later, he declared a state of emergency, dissolved parliament and promised to hold legislative elections within six months.

The violence continued and, finally, Ben Ali renounced power and fled to Saudi Arabia; the Speaker of Parliament was sworn in as interim president, forming a coalition government.

Todd Nettleton with The Voice of the Martyrs USA says it's hard to say what will result from the hurried changes, however, "I don't think we can anticipate a positive change, at least in the short term. This is a country with less than half a percent of the population as Christian. It's pretty unlikely that suddenly those believers are going to be celebrated by their government or by their countrymen."

While it seems that the community of believers is a little larger than thought previously, the attitude of the authorities has changed. Foreign Christian residents experience more inspections and suspect their phones are tapped.

"They have said, ‘We're not going have a law that is in opposition to Islam.' It's unlikely that the new government, whenever that gets situated, is going to change that policy. So I think that we need to pray for the believers."

Nettleton hopes this situation could lead to open doors for the gospel. "When there is upheaval, people are thinking about eternity; they're thinking about important things: What's worth living for? What's worth dying for?' That can be a time when revival strikes. It can be a time when the Spirit of God moves within a country."

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