“Ennahda Degage,” (Ennahda leave) “Ennahda Terrorist,” and “Enough” have appeared in French on Tunisian currency lately, showing the youth’s tireless efforts at protest as frustration with the government spreads.

“Ennahda Degage,” (Ennahda leave) “Ennahda Terrorist,” and “Enough” have appeared in French on Tunisian currency lately, showing the youth’s tireless efforts at protest as frustration with the government spreads.

“We have chosen to write on banknotes because every Tunisian uses them and they are an easy and fast-spreading commodity amongst the people,” said 25 year-old Amani Thwayeb, an activist in the Khanaqtouna (You Made us Suffocate) Movement (an anti-government youth movement) says that the campaign is a response to the growing wave of terrorism, high prices, high rates of poverty and the persistence of the economic crisis. “These banknotes carry a clear message to the current government to leave, especially after its failure in administrating the country’s affairs.” 

On November 6, 2013, a number of Internet activists initiated a campaign calling on citizens to write “Ennahda Degage” and “Enough” on currency.

Thwayeb said the popular campaign was spontaneous and involved many revolutionary youth movements including Tamarod and Khanaqtouna and was supported by opposing political parties. However, Thwayeb complained that the campaign was put to use in the conflict between the opposition and the government.

“The new creative method of struggle has made the government face two choices: either continue using the banknotes circulating in the market and bear the political consequences or withdraw them and bear the economic consequences,” said Aladdin Rouissi, a student and an activist in the General Union of Tunisian Students. “This puts the government in a dilemma that the protests movements and the opposition voices couldn’t achieve.”

Rouissi pointed out that the Tunisian youth are fed up with government policies that have marginalized the most pressing demands of the youth raised during the January 14, 2011 revolution. “The only thing we’ve got is hollow promises and procrastination. This campaign was a result of the economic and political crisis in Tunisia.”

Withdrawing these banknotes will lead to the absence of liquidity

In an unprecedented move, the Tunisian Central Bank in a statement, threatened to withdraw the banknotes, essentially the 10 and 20 dinar bills, from the market. However, many economic analysts assert that this process is difficult, given the wide scope and intensity of the campaign. They say that it is impossible to destroy all these banknotes and re-print them again because the economical and political costs would be too high, thus threatening the loss of liquidity and the collapse of the economic cycle, especially in light of the prevailing fragile economic situation in Tunisia.

It is noteworthy that the Economic Freedom of the World 2013 Annual Report published by Standard & Poor’s (Canada), had downgraded the credit rating of Tunisia because of the continuing political tension. Tunisia was ranked 81 after being ranked 80 in the past year.

Nevertheless, many young people who spoke to Correspondents stressed that the withdrawal of these banknotes would not prevent them from writing on the banknotes again, especially if the troika government continues to hold on to power and refuses to submit its resignation. 

In a statement to Correspondents, the Tunisian Central Bank said that until now it hasn’t counted the 10 and 20 dinar banknotes circulating in the country. It added that it is intending to follow-up on the size of transactions of these banknotes by the banks in order to destroy them. 

The central bank pointed out that it would withdraw the banknotes carrying words and slogans offensive to public morals. According to the bank’s estimates, the total number of banknotes carrying such protest slogans is very limited.