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Report designates Tunisia first 'free' Arab country in decades

Freedom House has ranked Tunisia as a "free" country, despite the political, economic and social challenges inherited from the dictatorship era.
A woman shouts slogans during celebrations marking the fourth anniversary of Tunisia's 2011 revolution, in Habib Bourguiba Avenue in Tunis January 14, 2015. REUTERS/Anis Mili (TUNISIA - Tags: POLITICS ANNIVERSARY SOCIETY) - RTR4LGKF
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TUNIS, Tunisia — Tunisia’s largely peaceful transition toward democracy following its 2011 revolution stands in stark contrast to the conflict, repression and return of dictatorship seen in other countries that experienced Arab Spring protests. The Washington-based nongovernmental organization Freedom House acknowledged Tunisia’s progress in its annual Freedom in the World report, released Jan. 28, by singling it out as a "notable exception" in a year that otherwise saw the state of freedom worsen in virtually every region.

Based on a rubric drawn from international human rights norms that examines political rights and civil liberties, the report categorizes countries as "not free," "partly free" or "free." After jumping from "not free" to "partly free" following the overthrow of longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, Tunisia became the first Arab country since the outbreak of the Lebanese Civil War in 1975 to be rated as "free" in the report.

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