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Bourguiba, Habib Ben Ali (1903–)


Subject History

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631209379.1999.x


Extract

President of Tunisia (1957–87). The son of a Tunisian officer in the French army, he studied law in Paris and married a Frenchwoman. In 1921 he joined the nationalist Destour Party but in 1934 broke away and formed with others the more radical Neo-Destour, which gradually took the lead in the campaign for independence. He was imprisoned from 1934–6, from 1938–43, and from 1952–4, until the government of mendés-france decided that, after the disaster of dien bien phu in Indochina and the outbreak of the algerian war of independence , Tunisia should be granted self-government. It was given autonomy in 1954 and, at Bourguiba's insistence, complete independence in 1956. The Bey included Neo-Destour members in his cabinet and made Bourguiba Prime Minister, but he did not want to share power and in 1957 deposed the Bey and declared a republic. A new constitution in 1957, which gave nearly all power to the President, made Bourguiba virtually a dictator in a one-party state. A Francophile, he began to turn Tunisia into a Western, secular state, much as Kemal Atatiirk had done in Turkey in the 1920s and 1930s. French, rather than Arabic, was the official language of government, higher education and élite society. Land held by religious foundations was nationalized, Quranic schools absorbed into the state system, Sharia (Islamic law) courts abolished and Zaytouna, a famous centre of ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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