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Tunisian terrorist fighters: a grassroots perspective


Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political AggressionJournal abstract

In a hectic consolidation phase plagued by security, economic and social challenges, Tunisia has stood out as the biggest sender of foreign terrorist fighters to the so-called Islamic State. How do grassroots forces frame the issue in the context of the democratic transition and post-revolutionary consolidating phase? In order to address this question, this article builds on fieldwork visits to Tunisia (including observation of the parliamentary elections in 2014 and background talks) and relies on a set of semi-structured interviews conducted from 2014 to 2017 with Tunisian civil society activists, students and young people, understood as voices representing grassroots. Though viewpoints from the grassroots agree on economic and social grievances as a motivating factor for Tunisian terrorist fighters, more emphasis is drawn to the ideological void filled in by the Salafi discourse after the Arab Spring and the need to replace the Tunisian understanding of Islam related to the Middle Way (el Wasatiyyah) in the political debate.

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