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From Democratic Exception to State of Exception: Covid-19 in the Context of Tunisia’s State of Law

In: Middle East Law and Governance
Authors:
Meriem GuetatCentre d’études maghrébines à Tunis (CEMAT), Tunis, Tunisia, guetat@aimsnorthafrica.org

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Meriem AgrebiUniversity of Carthage, Faculty of Legal, political, and social sciences of Tunis, Tunisia, meriem.agrebi@fsjpst.u-carthage.tn

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Abstract

Through an analysis of the early legal and institutional response to Covid-19 in Tunisia, this article demonstrates that the narrative of Tunisia’s democratic exceptionalism following the 2011 revolution is not translated into a liberal legal practice but is instead upheld by an authoritarian rationale that serves the role of a formal channel that legitimizes power discourse. Specifically, this article focuses on what the state of exception, which was declared during the ongoing state of emergency, reveals about the various uses of law in Tunisia. It argues that the state of emergency has become the norm to the Tunisian way of governance post-2011, allowing for the survival of past authoritarian practices where the legal apparatus is used and deployed as a tool of policing and control.

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