By Mick Krever, CNN
The Arab Spring “will not die” in Tunisia, where it all started, President Moncef Marzouki told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.
“I'm very, very confident,” he said in an interview that aired Wednesday.
Last weekend, the ruling Islamist democrats in Tunisia resigned, and in return the secular opposition ratified the constitution that the Islamists had been drafting for a year and a half.
It stands in stark contrast to the on-going blood in Syria and political chaos in Egypt.
“The situation in Tunisia is much easier because first of all, we have a homogenous society; this is extremely important,” Marzouki told Amanpour. “Even under the dictatorship we used to have a very strong civil society.”
Nonetheless, he said, there are “a lot of forces,” both inside and outside the country, that don’t want to see a Tunisian success story.
“Syria is becoming an internal problem, Tunisian internal problem,” he said, “because we have about between five hundred or eight hundred young people, Tunisian young people, going there for jihad. And I guess some of them, let's say two hundred or three hundred, has come back home and then they could be a threat.”
A similar phenomenon has been seen in Mali, he told Amanpour, which itself has been a victim of fighters flowing over the border from Libya.
In an interview with Amanpour last week, Libyan Prime Minsiter Ali Zeidan said that his country cannot be called “failing,” largely because “The state of Libya doesn't exist yet.”
“They had really to begin from nothing,” Marzouki said. Muammar Gadhafi “was a crazy guy, and he forbade everything.”
“Now all the terrorists coming – they come from Libya.”
Tunisia is working with Libya and Algeria to help control its borders, Marzouki said, but added that he “badly” needs help from international community.
“For the first time,” he told Amanpour, “we feel that we are threatened in Tunisia by the terrorists.”
Nonetheless, Tunisia has managed to escape the political showdown between government and military that has so plagued another Arab Spring country, Egypt.
“What's happening in Egypt is extremely dangerous,” Marzouki told Amanpour. “I'm very shocked by the fact that you have so-called liberals, so-called human rights activists and so forth backing the ouster of an elected president, crackdown on political parties, accepting this level of violence against civil population.”
Egyptian liberals, he said, “betrayed democracy.”
“I'm not defending Muslim Brotherhood,” he added. “I do believe that their policy was not a good one.”
But “they should have done the same thing in Tunisia,” Marzouki said, “keeping the dialogue with opponents and so forth. … I hope that democracy will resume in Egypt, but I'm afraid that it will take a long, long time.”
Tunisia, in sum, seems to have fared relatively well in the democratic movement it kicked off, with political opponents working together and ceding power in the name of a functioning state.
A new Pew poll, however, says that fewer Tunisians view democracy favourably than they did last year (54% versus 63%) and a majority say that the country is worse off without the erstwhile Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
“Before being in the state I have been professor of public health,” Marzouki said. “This kind of poll is not serious. I can assure that a Tunisian would stick to democracy because they know what dictatorship means.”
“Of course they are a little bit deceived, because after a revolution, the level of expectation is very, very high,” he told Amampour. “And we have to explain to them that now they got freedom, freedom of expression, freedom of faith. And this is very, very important.”