Houcine Abassi, secretary general of the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT), right, is congratulated by unidentified union members in his office at the headquarters in Tunis, Tunisia, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. Abassi is one of the four members of the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet to be awarded the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday by the Norwegian Nobel Committee. (AP Photo)
By BOUAZZA BEN BOUAZZA, Associated Press
TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — The leader of a Tunisian human rights group that was among the winners of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize said the honor has meaning not just for his country but for all those mired in war.
It’s also a ray of good news for a North African nation that has suffered two major terror attacks this year.
Abdessatar Ben Moussa, president of the Tunisian League of Human Rights, told The Associated Press on Saturday that he saw a message in giving the prize to the Tunisian coalition that laid the groundwork for the only democracy springing from the 2011 Arab Spring demonstrations.
“It’s a message for neighboring countries where the civil is now permanent, in Libya for example where arms are used for years, and that doesn’t resolve problems,” he said.
For many Tunisians, including Wided Bouchamaoui, the head of the employers’ association UTICA, which was also honored, it’s also a message of confidence for the future of a country that is still troubled by poverty and violence.
Since two terror attacks this year that killed scores of tourists — one at the Bardo museum and another at a beach resort in Sousse — foreign tourism has plummeted and with it, hope for economic growth. Growth in 2015 for Tunisia is expected to be flat or negative while unemployment is over 15 percent and inflation has been running around 6 percent.
“It says that Tunisia is a country where life is good. People can come and invest safely in Tunisia,” Bouchamaoui said.
Hopes were high even among Tunisians not directly affected by the prize, in a country that had become increasingly despairing after this year’s deadly attacks.
“More than support and aid from abroad, this is an honor for Tunisians and should move them to give more in the service of the country to deal with the difficult situation it’s enduring,” said 25-year-old Monem Arfaoui.
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