Scandals have emerged as a mainstay of Tunisia’s extended political drama, which, since the revolution, has included seven governments and a series of damning accusations.

Scandals have emerged as a mainstay of Tunisia’s extended political drama, which, since the revolution, has included seven governments and a series of damning accusations.

In the latest scandal, local media reported that Sabrin Qobantini, a Member of Parliament for the ruling party Nidaa Tounes, was caught in an alleged immoral act with a male friend near the pool of a hotel in Djerba Island.

Although the events were disputed by Qobantini, a hotel guard said: “She was in an immoral act and drunk,” he said. “She spoke to me with arrogance as if she was above the law.”

The guard was arrested pending further investigation and was released on September 5. He is still under prosecution because Qobantini filed a defamation complaint.

Bribery and fraud

But for Tunisians, the story is a reminder of a series of scandals that have shaken Nidaa Tounes. Recently a lawsuit was filed against head of Nidaa Tounes Sufian Toubal for corruption and bribery.

Lawyer Khalid Ewayniyah said his client, who goes by the name Ezzeddine Bukhari, lodged a complaint against Toubal, accusing him of receiving a bribe of US$ 5,000. Bukhari gave Toubal this bribe in the hope that he would help his daughter become a judge, his lawyer said.

Ewayniyah told Correspondents that Bukhari had audio recordings proving that Toubal had actually received the said money after he had promised to help Bukhari’s daughter.

Toubal denied the accusations, calling them politically-motivated fabrications. He said the charges of bribery and fraud would not affect the reputation of his party which, a few months ago, was beset by divisions and a power struggle among its leaders.

Moral crisis

Sociologist Tareq Muhammad said that the news flow reveals a moral and political downward spiral in the country. “The moral crisis reflects a declining political culture where political opponents talk publicly about the private lives of their opponents and spread rumours and accusations to score points against them,” he said. “Such rumours and accusations negatively affect the reputation of parties and political figures and damage people’s confidence in them.

Among the scandals affecting Nidaa Tounes was the allegation that the Member of Parliament Hassan Amari was lured out to meet a young Moroccan man who used a website to pretend he was a beautiful girl and then filmed Amari while masturbating in front of the webcam. Amari has admitted having been subjected to blackmail by Internet hackers, but he denied the existence of any such obscene video or pictures.

Months ago, secretary general of Mouvement Machrou Tounes Mohsen Marzouk was accused of corruption as part of the ‘Panama Papers.’ These papers, published on, accused Marzouk of writing to Mossack Fonseca Company about how to create an offshore company. The news implied that Marzouk wanted to hold funds and conduct business overseas. Marzouk however denies this and has filed a defamation complaint.

Across the spectrum

Even former President Moncef Marzouki was accused of corruption. In early 2014, the Anonymous Network published leaked bills from the Presidential Palace, claiming that they were from lavish reception parties held by Marzouki for party meetings.

This was widely seen as squandering of public money for meetings that had nothing to do with presidential activities, while pro-Marzouki supporters rejected the allegations as a bid to undermine the leader ahead of the presidential elections.

Even leaders of the Islamic Ennahda Party face a barrage of corruption accusations. The so-called Sheratongate affair however was the most damning claim, dating from late 2012 when Tunisian blogger Ulfa Riahi accused Foreign Minister Rafik Abdessalem, brother in law of Ennahda’s leader Rached Ghannouchi, of corruption.

Through leaked documents, she revealed how Abdessalem deposited a financial grant by China into his own bank account, fueling public outrage and shaking faith in the leadership, which eventually buckled under the pressure.