This blog's main topics are the political situation in Tunisia and all the activities surrounding the election of the Constituent Assembly that was held on October 23rd 2011. You will also find interviews and discussions that I conducted with politicians and bloggers from the Revolution. All this from a Canadian perspective in Tunis.
mercredi 19 octobre 2011
The youth that changed the world
The Arab Spring, a revolt that spread across numerous countries, was all
started by Tunisia in December of 2010. The country will also be the first of
these countries to have a democratic election this Sunday, October 23rd.
The uprising was certainly the work of all the population but the true
forerunners were those that started the original waves of protests, the youth.
Some of them were killed sadly, as a result of their disobedience.
Among those youths, a number of them have made themselves know
throughout the country and abroad by writing in blogs and making extensive use
of social networks. By gradually denouncing and reporting acts of censorship
and corruption by the old dictatorship, the country’s youth grew more and more
outraged. Mixed with the prospect of a bleak future and an economy that was
kept in a stranglehold by a tyrant, they rebelled and overthrew their master
Sitting at a café in the Les Berges du Lac neighborhood of Tunis,
Yassine Ayari, a very popular blogger form the Revolution, tells me about how
Tunisians felt in the final years of the dictatorship. ‘‘People had had enough;
we were always censored online, in the streets and in cafés. No one dared to
speak of politics, even less say anything bad about the government for fear of
reprisal. We had the feeling that the police were always spying on us’’.
Besides his implications online, Yassine brought a very particular
contribution to the Revolt. In May of 2010, a few months before protests became
daily occurrences, he and his friend Slim Amamou organized a contestation
activity in Bourguiba avenue cafés. They did not try to hide it from authorities
and made the event public. At the end of the day, many patrons had worn white
shirts to protest censorship. This was not organized or carried out by unions
or large groups but rather by ordinary people trying to send out their message.
At the time, amidst the political climate, it was a very powerful message
According to many young people, the Revolution did not only occur in the
streets and on the internet. A few years before Ben Ali’s ousting, there was a growing
feeling that the government was getting weaker and could not snuff out all the
criticism pointed towards it. A fine example would be the fans chanting
anti-regime slogans during football (soccer) games.
The now defunct President was even booed at a pre-game ceremony while he
was presenting an individual merit trophy to a star player. ‘‘This was one of
the first times that we could express our malcontent towards the government
without having the fear of being reprimanded. We were 40 000, there was no
way to arrest all of us’’ says Fakhri Louati, an accounting student at the
Carthage school of business and die-hard soccer fan. He also participated in
many of the protests and sit-ins before Ben Ali’s regime was toppled.
Mr. Louati also spoke about how the government had tried to use sport to
draw attention away from politics. “Most of the news that were reported and
discussions held in cafés were about football. The government wanted it to be
like that, but after a while it backfired on them as angry citizens used the
games to voice their unrest towards the dictator”.
These anecdotes are part of countless more that happened to people
implicated near and far in the acts of anti-regime contestations. The
Revolution that changed the face of Arab world was fuelled by thousands of
citizen’s thirst for change and democracy, especially the younger ones.
If things work out and countries transitioning to democracy can succeed,
the citizens of – Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, to name a few – will owe
a debt of gratitude to young Tunisians. After all, they sparked the fire that
changed the world forever.