|Part of the Arab Spring|
Protesters with a sign that says "Ben Ali, get lost" in French.
|Date||18 December 2010 – 14 January 2011|
(3 weeks and 6 days)
|Resulted in||Overthrow of the Ben Ali government |
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|History of Tunisia|
The Tunisian Revolutionwas an intensive campaign of civil resistance, including a series of street demonstrations taking place in Tunisia, and led to the ousting of longtime president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. It eventually led to a thorough democratization of the country and to free and democratic elections.
Civil resistance is political action that relies on the use of nonviolent resistance by civil groups to challenge a particular power, force, policy or regime. Civil resistance operates through appeals to the adversary, pressure and coercion: it can involve systematic attempts to undermine the adversary's sources of power, both domestic and international. Forms of action have included demonstrations, vigils and petitions; strikes, go-slows, boycotts and emigration movements; and sit-ins, occupations, and the creation of parallel institutions of government. Civil resistance movements' motivations for avoiding violence are generally related to context, including a society's values and its experience of war and violence, rather than to any absolute ethical principle. Cases of civil resistance can be found throughout history and in many modern struggles, against both tyrannical rulers and democratically elected governments. The phenomenon of civil resistance is often associated with the advancement of democracy.
Tunisia (officially the Republic of Tunisia) is a country in the Maghreb region of North Africa, covering 165,000 square kilometres. Its northernmost point, Cape Angela, is the northernmost point on the African continent. It is bordered by Algeria to the west and southwest, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Tunisia's population was 11.435 million in 2017. Tunisia's name is derived from its capital city, Tunis, which is located on its northeast coast.
Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, commonly known as Ben Ali, is a Tunisian former politician who served as President of Tunisia from 1987 until his ousting in 2011. Ben Ali was appointed Prime Minister in October 1987, and he assumed the Presidency on 7 November 1987 in a bloodless coup d'état that ousted President Habib Bourguiba, who was declared incompetent. Ben Ali was subsequently reelected with enormous majorities, each time exceeding 90% of the vote; the final re-election was on 25 October 2009.
The demonstrations were caused by high unemployment, food inflation, corruption,a lack of political freedoms like freedom of speech and poor living conditions. The protests constituted the most dramatic wave of social and political unrest in Tunisia in three decades and resulted in scores of deaths and injuries, most of which were the result of action by police and security forces against demonstrators.
Unemployment or joblessness is the situation of actively looking for employment, but not being currently employed.
In economics, inflation is a sustained increase in the general price level of goods and services in an economy over a period of time. When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services; consequently, inflation reflects a reduction in the purchasing power per unit of money – a loss of real value in the medium of exchange and unit of account within the economy. A chief measure of price inflation is the inflation rate, the annualized percentage change in a general price index, usually the consumer price index, over time. The opposite of inflation is deflation.
In general, corruption is a form of dishonesty or criminal activity undertaken by a person or organization entrusted with a position of authority, often to acquire illicit benefit. Corruption may include many activities including bribery and embezzlement, though it may also involve practices that are legal in many countries. Political corruption occurs when an office-holder or other governmental employee acts in an official capacity for personal gain. Corruption is most commonplace in kleptocracies, oligarchies, narco-states and mafia states.
The protests were sparked by the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi on 17 December 2010and led to the ousting of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali 28 days later on 14 January 2011, when he officially resigned after fleeing to Saudi Arabia, ending 23 years in power. Labour unions were an integral part of the protests. The Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet was awarded the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize for "its decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Tunisian Revolution of 2011". The protests inspired similar actions throughout the Arab world, known as the Arab Spring.
Self-immolation is an act of killing oneself as a sacrifice. While usage since the 1960s has typically referred only to setting oneself on fire, the term historically refers to a much wider range of suicidal options, such as leaping off a cliff, starvation, or seppuku. Self-immolation is often used as a form of protest or for the purposes of martyrdom. It has centuries-long traditions in some cultures, while in modern times it has become a type of radical political protest. The British sociologist Michael Biggs compiled a list of 533 "self-immolations" reported by Western media from the 1950s to 2002, using the general definition, and including any intentional suicide "on behalf of a collective cause".
Tarek el-Tayeb Mohamed Bouazizi was a Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire on 17 December 2010, which became a catalyst for the Tunisian Revolution and the wider Arab Spring against autocratic regimes. His self-immolation was in response to the confiscation of his wares and the harassment and humiliation inflicted on him by a municipal official and her aides.
Saudi Arabia, officially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is a country in Western Asia constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula. With a land area of approximately 2,150,000 km2 (830,000 sq mi), Saudi Arabia is the largest sovereign state in the Middle East, geographically the fifth-largest in Asia, second-largest in the Arab world after Algeria and 12th-largest in the world. Saudi Arabia is bordered by Jordan and Iraq to the north, Kuwait to the northeast, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates to the east, Oman to the southeast and Yemen to the south. It is separated from Israel and Egypt by the Gulf of Aqaba. It is the only nation with both a Red Sea coast and a Persian Gulf coast, and most of its terrain consists of arid desert, lowland and mountains. Saudi Arabia is the largest economy in the Middle East as of October 2018 and the 18th largest in the world.
In Tunisia and the wider Arab world, the protests and change in government are called the Revolution or sometimes the Sidi Bouzid Revolt, derived from Sidi Bouzid, the city where the initial protests began. ثورة الكرامة (Thawrat al-Karāmah). Within Tunisia, Ben Ali's rise to power in 1987 was also known as the Jasmine Revolution.In the Western media, these events have been dubbed the Jasmine Revolution or Jasmine Spring after Tunisia's national flower and in keeping with the geopolitical nomenclature of "color revolutions". The name "Jasmine Revolution" originated from American journalist Andy Carvin, but it was not widely adopted in Tunisia itself. In fact, the debate surrounding the name and the poetic influences behind the Tunisian revolution was a popular question among Tunisian intellectuals themselves as seen in the following article: Tunisia's revolution of dignity and freedom cannot be color-coded. The name adopted in Tunisia was the Dignity Revolution, which is a translation of the Tunisian Arabic name for the revolution
Sidi Bouzid, sometimes called Sidi Bou Zid or Sīdī Bū Zayd, is a city in Tunisia and is the capital of Sidi Bouzid Governorate in the centre of the country. Following the suicide of Mohamed Bouazizi in Sidi Bouzid, it was the site of the first clashes of the Tunisian Revolution and a catalyst for other protests in the region, often known as the Arab Spring.
Andy Carvin was National Public Radio's senior product manager for online communities. He accepted a position at First Look Media in February, 2014. Carvin was the founding editor and former coordinator of the Digital Divide Network, an online community of more than 10,000 Internet activists in over 140 countries working to bridge the digital divide. He is also an active blogger as well as a field correspondent to the vlog Rocketboom.
Tunisian Arabic, or Tunisian, is a set of dialects of Maghrebi Arabic spoken in Tunisia. It is known by Tunisians: its 11 million speakers as Tounsi[ˈtuːnsi](
President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali had ruled Tunisia since 1987, mostly as a one-party state with the Democratic Constitutional Rally (known as the RCD) in power. His government was characterized by the development of Tunisia's private sector in favor of foreign investment, and the repression of political opposition. Foreign media and NGOs criticized his government, which was supported by the United States and France. As a result, the initial reactions to Ben Ali's abuses by the U.S. and France were muted, and most instances of socio-political protest in the country, when they occurred at all, rarely made major news headlines.
The Democratic Constitutional Rally or Democratic Constitutional Assembly, also referred to by its French initials RCD, formerly called Neo Destour then Socialist Destourian Party, was the ruling party in Tunisia from independence in 1956 until it was overthrown and dissolved in the Tunisian revolution in 2011.
Riots in Tunisia were rare [ clarification needed ] It also cited the "marginalisation of the agrarian and arid central and southern areas [that] continue[s] unabated." The protests were also called an "uprising" because of "a lethal combination of poverty, unemployment and political repression: three characteristics of most Arab societies."and noteworthy, especially since the country is generally considered to be wealthy and stable as compared to other countries in the region. Any form of protests in the country were previously successfully repressed and kept silent by the former regime and protesters would be jailed for such actions, as were for example protests by hundreds of unemployed demonstrators in Redeyef in 2008. In fact, as noted by Mohamed Bacha in his book The Revolutionary Chants of Club Africain Ultras, Tunisian youth had managed to circumvent repression and to express their anger and dissatisfaction towards the oppressive regime and social / political injustice for years preceding the Tunisia revolution, notably through the fan chants of Club Africain Ultras who predicted the imminence of a revolution in Tunisia, in chants like: The capital is very angry, We are solidary when we make war to the sons of --- Who oppress us, Hey Regime,The Revolution is Imminent Al Jazeera English also said that Tunisian activists are amongst the most outspoken in its part of the world with various messages of support being posted on Twitter for Bouazizi. An op-ed article in the same network said of the action that it was "suicidal protests of despair by Tunisia's youth." It pointed out that the state-controlled National Solidarity Fund and the National Employment Fund had traditionally subsidized many goods and services in the country but had started to shift the "burden of providence from state to society" to be funded by the bidonvilles , or shanty towns, around the richer towns and suburbs.
Redeyef is a town and commune in the Gafsa Governorate, Tunisia. As of 2004 it had a population of 26,143. City industry is mainly based on mining.
Al Jazeera English (AJE) is a Qatari pay television news channel owned and operated by Al Jazeera Media Network, headquartered in Doha, Qatar. It is the first English-language news channel to be headquartered in the Middle East. Instead of being run centrally, news management rotates between broadcasting centres in Doha and London.
An op-ed, short for "opposite the editorial page" or "opinion editorial", is a written prose piece typically published by a newspaper or magazine which expresses the opinion of an author usually not affiliated with the publication's editorial board. Op-eds are different from both editorials and letters to the editor.
Twenty-six-year-old Mohamed Bouazizi had been the sole income earner in his extended family of eight. He operated a vegetable or apple cart (the contents of the cart are disputed) for seven years in Sidi Bouzid 190 miles (300 km) south of Tunis. On 17 December 2010, a female officer confiscated his cart and produce. Bouazizi, who had had such an event happen to him before, tried to pay the 10-dinar fine (a day's wages, equivalent to 7USD). In response the policewoman insulted his deceased father and slapped him. The officer, Faida Hamdi, stated that she was not even a policewoman, but a city employee who had been tasked that morning with confiscating produce from vendors without licenses. When she tried to do so with Bouazizi a scuffle ensued. Hamdi says she called the police who then beat Bouazizi. A humiliated Bouazizi then went to the provincial headquarters in an attempt to complain to local municipality officials and to have his produce returned. He was refused an audience. Without alerting his family, at 11:30 am and within an hour of the initial confrontation, Bouazizi returned to the headquarters, doused himself with a flammable liquid and set himself on fire. Public outrage quickly grew over the incident, leading to protests. This immolation and the subsequent heavy-handed response by the police to peaceful marchers caused riots the next day in Sidi Bouzid that went largely unnoticed, although social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube featured images of police dispersing youths who attacked shop windows and damaged cars. Bouazizi was subsequently transferred to a hospital near Tunis. In an attempt to quell the unrest President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali visited Bouazizi in hospital on 28 December 2010. Bouazizi died on 4 January 2011.
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On 28 November 2010, WikiLeaks and five major newspapers (Spain's El País , France's Le Monde , Germany's Der Spiegel , the United Kingdom's The Guardian , and the United States' The New York Times ) simultaneously published the first 220 of 251,287 leaked documents labeled confidential.These included descriptions of corruption and repression by the Tunisian regime. It is widely believed that the information in the WikiLeaks documents contributed to the protests, which began a few weeks later.
There were reports of police obstructing demonstrators and using tear gas on hundreds of young protesters in Sidi Bouzid in mid-December 2010. The protesters had gathered outside regional government headquarters to demonstrate against the treatment of Mohamed Bouazizi. Coverage of events was limited by Tunisian media. On 19 December, extra police were present on the streets of the city.
On 22 December, Lahseen Naji, a protester, responded to "hunger and joblessness" by electrocuting himself after climbing an electricity pylon. 24 December, Mohamed Ammari was fatally shot in the chest by police in Bouziane. Other protesters were also injured, including Chawki Belhoussine El Hadri, who died later on 30 December. Police claimed they shot the demonstrators in "self-defence." A "quasi-curfew" was then imposed on the city by police. Rapper El Général, whose songs had been adopted by protesters, was arrested on 24 December but released several days later after "an enormous public reaction".Ramzi Al-Abboudi also killed himself because of financial difficulties arising from a business debt by the country's micro-credit solidarity programme. On
Violence later increased as Tunisian authorities and residents of Sidi Bouzid Governorate encountered each other once again. The protests had reached the capital Tunis 27 December with about 1,000 citizens expressing solidarity with residents of Sidi Bouzid and calling for jobs. The rally, which was called by independent trade union activists, was stopped by security forces. The protests also spread to Sousse, Sfax and Meknassy. The following day the Tunisian Federation of Labour Unions held another rally in Gafsa which was also blocked by security forces. At the same time about 300 lawyers held a rally near the government's palace in Tunis. Protests continued again on the 29 December.on
On 30 December, police peacefully broke up a protest in Monastir while using force to disrupt further demonstrations in Sbikha and Chebba. Momentum appeared to continue with the protests on 31 December and further demonstrations and public gatherings by lawyers in Tunis and other cities following a call by the Tunisian National Lawyers Order. Mokhtar Trifi, president of the Tunisian Human Rights League (LTDH), said that lawyers across Tunisia had been "savagely beaten." There were also unconfirmed reports of another man attempting to commit suicide in El Hamma.
On 3 January 2011, protests in Thala over unemployment and a high cost of living turned violent. At a demonstration of 250 people, mostly students, in support of the protesters in Sidi Bouzid, police fired tear gas; one canister landed in a local mosque. In response, the protesters were reported to have set fire to tyres and attacked the office of Constitutional Democratic Rally.Some of the more general protests sought changes in the government's online censorship, where a lot of the media images have been broadcast. Tunisian authorities also allegedly carried out phishing operations to take control of user passwords and check online criticism. Both state and non-state websites had been hacked.
On 6 January 95% of Tunisia's 8,000 lawyers went on strike, according to the chairman of the national bar association. He said "The strike carries a clear message that we do not accept unjustified attacks on lawyers. We want to strongly protest against the beating of lawyers in the past few days."It was reported on the following day that teachers had also joined the strike.
In response to 11 January protests police used riot gear to disperse protesters ransacking buildings, burning tires, setting fire to a bus and burning two cars in the working class suburb of Ettadhamen-Mnihla in Tunis. The protesters were said to have chanted "We are not afraid, we are not afraid, we are afraid only of God." Military personnel were also deployed in many cities around the country.
On 12 January, a reporter from the Italian state-owned television broadcaster RAI stated that he and his cameraman were beaten with batons by police during a riot in Tunis' central district and that the officers then confiscated their camera.A night time curfew was also ordered in Tunis after protests and clashes with police.
Hizb ut-Tahrir also organised protests after Friday prayer on 14 January to call for re-establishing the Islamic caliphate.A day later, it also organised other protests that went to the 9 April Prison to free political prisoners.
Also on 14 January (the same day that Ben Ali fled), Lucas Dolega, a photojournalist working for European Pressphoto Agency, was hit in the forehead by a tear gas canister allegedly fired by the police at short range; he died two days later.
During a national television broadcast on 28 December, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali criticized people for their protests calling the perpetrators "extremists and mercenaries" and warned of "firm" punishment. He also accused "certain foreign television channels of broadcasting false allegations without verification, based on dramatization, fermentation and deformation by media hostile to Tunisia." His remarks were ignored and the protests continued.
On 29 December, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali shuffled his cabinet to remove his communications minister Oussama Romdhani, while also announcing changes to the trade and handicrafts, religious affairs, communication and youth portfolios.The next day he also announced the dismissal of the governors of Sidi Bouzid, Jendouba and Zaghouan.
In January 2011, Ben Ali said 300,000 new jobs would be created, though he did not clarify what that meant. However, he also described the protests as "the work of masked gangs that attacked at night government buildings and even civilians inside their homes in a terrorist act that cannot be overlooked." Ahmed Najib Chebbi, the leader of the Progressive Democratic Party, then said that despite official claims of police firing in self-defense "the demonstrations were non-violent and the youths were claiming their rights to jobs" and that "the funeral processions [for those killed on 9 January] turned into demonstrations, and the police fired [at] the youths who were at these ... processions." He then criticised Ben Ali's comments as the protesters were "claiming their civil rights, and there is no terrorist act...no religious slogans," while accusing Ben Ali of "looking for scapegoats." He further criticised the additional jobs offered as mere "promises."
Several webloggers and the rapper Hamada Ben Amor, better known by his stage name El Général,were arrested, but the rapper and some of the bloggers were later released. Reporters Without Borders said the arrest of at least six bloggers and activists, who had either been arrested or had disappeared across Tunisia, was brought to their attention and that there were "probably" others. Tunisian Pirate Party activists Slah Eddine Kchouk, Slim Amamou (later released, and eventually appointed Secretary of State for Sport and Youth by the incoming government) and Azyz Amamy were arrested but later released. Hamma Hammami, the leader of the banned Tunisian Workers' Communist Party and a prominent critic of Ben Ali, was arrested on 12 January, though he was released two days later.
On 10 January, the government announced the indefinite closure of all schools and universities in order to quell the unrest.Days before departing office, Ben Ali announced that he would not change the present constitution, which was read as, in effect, promising to step down in 2014 due to his age.
On 14 January, Ben Ali dissolved his government and declared a state of emergency. Officials said the reason for the emergency declaration was to protect Tunisians and their property. People were also barred from gathering in groups of more than three, otherwise courting arrest or being shot if they tried to run away.Ben Ali also called for an election within six months to defuse demonstrations aimed at forcing him out. France24 also said the military took control of the airport and closed the country's airspace.
On the same day, Ben Ali fled the country for Malta under Libyan protectionand landed in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, after France rejected a request for the plane to land on its territory. Saudi Arabia cited "exceptional circumstances" for their heavily criticised decision to give him asylum saying it was also "in support of the security and stability of their country." The Saudi decision was "not out of sympathy" for Ben Ali (who had long fought against Islamists in Tunisia). Saudi Arabia demanded Ben Ali remain "out of politics" as a condition for accepting him.
Following Ben Ali's departure from the country, a state of emergency was declared. Army Commander Rashid Ammar pledged to "protect the revolution."Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi then briefly took over as acting President. On the morning of 15 January, Tunisian state TV announced that Ben Ali had officially resigned his position and Ghannouchi had handed over the Presidency to parliamentary speaker Fouad Mebazaa, with Ghannouchi returning to his previous position as Prime Minister. This was done after the head of Tunisia's Constitutional Court, Fethi Abdennadher, declared that Ghannouchi did not have right to power, and confirmed Fouad Mebazaa as acting President under Article 57 of the Constitution. Mebazaa was given 60 days to organise new elections. Mebazaa said it was in the country's best interest to form a National Unity government.
INTERPOL confirmed that its National Central Bureau (NCB) in Tunis had issued a global alert via INTERPOL's international network to seek the location of and arrest former Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and six of his relatives.
A commission to reform the constitution and current law in general was set up under Yadh Ben Achour.There were also calls by the opposition to delay the elections and hold them in six or seven months and with international supervision.
Following Ben Ali's departure, violence and looting continued and the national army was reported to be extensively deployed in Tunisia.The identity of the perpetrators has not been determined. A high official of the Tunisian military, however, also stated that elements loyal to former President Ben Ali have deployed across the country. The capital's main train station was also torched.
A prison director in Mahdia freed about 1,000 inmates following a prison rebellion that left 5 people dead. 's correspondent said there were apparently three different armed groups: the police (250,000 people of the country's population were supposedly part of the police force), security forces from the Interior Ministry, and irregular militias supportive of Ben Ali who were vying for control.Many other prisons also had jail breaks or raids from external groups to force prisoner releases, some suspected to be aided by prison guards. Residents who were running out of necessary food supplies had armed themselves and barricaded their homes, even to the extent of having formed armed neighbourhood watches. Al Jazeera
Gun battles took place near the Presidential Palace between the Tunisian army and elements of security organs loyal to the former regime after Ali Seriati, head of presidential security, was arrested and accused of threatening state security by fomenting violence.The Tunisian army was reportedly struggling to assert control. Gunfire continued in Tunis and Carthage as security services struggled to maintain law and order.
The most immediate result of the protests was seen in increased internet freedoms.While commentators were divided about the extent to which the internet contributed to the ousting of Ben Ali from power, Facebook remained accessible to roughly 20% of the population throughout the crisis whilst its passwords were hacked by a country-wide man-in-the-middle attack, YouTube and DailyMotion became available after Ben Ali's ouster, and the Tor anonymity network reported a surge of traffic from Tunisia.
As a date was announced for an election in mid-July 2011, more than 100,000 protesters continued to demand the removal of Ghannouchi as interim prime minister.
Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi's government asked Saudi Arabia to extradite Ben Ali saying that "following a new batch of charges against the ousted president regarding his involvement in several serious crimes aimed at perpetrating and inciting voluntary homicide and sowing discord between the citizens of the same country by pushing them to kill one another."Reports emerged on 18 February 2011 that Ben Ali had had a stroke and was gravely ill. Plans for a general amnesty were also announced on that day.
In mid-February 2011, about 4,000 mostly Tunisian refugees landed on the Italian island of Lampedusa, causing the authorities to declare a state of emergencythat would allow for federal aid to the island. Interior Minister Roberto Maroni accused the EU of not doing enough to curb immigration and asked them to do more. He said that the "Tunisian system was 'collapsing'" and that he would "ask the Tunisian Foreign Ministry for permission for our authorities to intervene to stop the flow in Tunisia," suggesting Italian troops would be on Tunisian soil. He called the event a "biblical exodus." The comments started a row between the two countries with the Tunisian Foreign Ministry saying it was ready to work with Italy and others but that it "categorically rejects any interference in its internal affairs or any infringement of its sovereignty." In response, Italy's Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said that both countries share a "common interest" to halt the immigration, while he also offered "logistical help in terms of police and equipment. Until now the system of patrolling the coasts of Northern Africa has worked and we want to re-establish the technique, which had reduced illegal immigration to zero until a month ago." Tunisia then said that it had troops patrolling southern fishing ports and that checkpoints had been erected in coastal towns. By 14 February, at least 2,000 refugees had been sent to Sicily with the other 2,000 quarantined at a re-opened holding centre. On 2 March about 350 more people arrived on the island. In response Italy declared a humanitarian emergency.
The International Organisation for Migration said that no new boats had been spotted. The EU's Catherine Ashton was on a visit to Tunisia to discuss the issue. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that "not everyone who does not want to be in Tunisia can come to Europe. Rather, we need to talk to each other how we can strengthen the rule of law in Tunisia again and whether Europe can be of help."
The national stock market, the TUNINDEX, fell on 12 January for a three consecutive day loss of 9.3%.Following the curfew in Tunis, the market index again fell 3.8% as the cost of protecting against a sovereign default in credit default swaps rose to its highest level in almost two years.
Following Ghanoucchi and two other Ben Ali-era ministers resigning, the bourse was again suspended.
Many governments and supranational organisations expressed concerns over use of force against protesters. France, the former colonial power of Tunisia, was one of just a few states that expressed strong support for the Ben Ali government prior to its ouster, though protests were held in solidarity with Tunisia in several French cities and the French Socialist Party voiced support for the popular revolution.
The protests and resultant political crisis have generally been called the Jasmine revolution' only in the foreign media.Tunisian philosopher Youssef Seddik deemed the term inappropriate because the violence that accompanied the event was "perhaps as deep as Bastille Day," and although the term was coined by the Tunisian journalist Zied El Hani, who first used it on his blog on 13 January and initially spread via social media such as Facebook (hence "Revolution Facebook" amongst the youth of Tunisia), it is not in widespread use in Tunisia itself.
The lack of coverage in the domestic state-controlled media was criticised.Writer/activist Jillian York alleged that the mainstream media, particularly in the Western world, was providing less coverage and less sympathetic coverage to the Tunisia protests relative to Iranian protests and the Green movement and China's censorship. York alleged the "US government—which intervened heavily in Iran, approving circumvention technology for export and famously asking Twitter to halt updates during a critical time period—has not made any public overtures toward Tunisia at this time."
Despite criticism about the "sparse" level of coverage and "little interest" given to the demonstrations by the international media, the protests were hailed by some commentators as "momentous events" in Tunisian history.Brian Whitaker, writing in The Guardian , suggested on 28 December 2010, that the protests would be enough to bring an end to Ben Ali's presidency and noted similarities with the protests that led to the end of Nicolae Ceauşescu's reign in Romania in 1989, although Steven Cook, writing for the Council of Foreign Relations, notes that a tipping point is only obvious after the fact, and points to the counter-example of the 2009-2010 Iranian election protests. Ben Ali's governing strategy was nevertheless regarded as in serious trouble, and Elliot Abrams noted both that demonstrators were able for the first time at the end of 2010 to defy the security forces and that the regime had no obvious successors outside of Ben Ali's own family. The French management of the crisis came under severe criticism with notable silence in the mainstream media in the run-up to the crisis with its former protectorate with which it maintained friendly relations.
Al Jazeera believed the ousting of the president meant the "glass ceiling of fear has been for ever shattered in Tunisia and that the police state that Ben Ali created in 1987 when he came to power in a coup seems to be disintegrating", though it added that Ben Ali's resignation, following his statement that he had been "duped by his entourage" may not entirely be sincere. Le Monde criticised French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the European Union's "Silence over the Tragedy" when the unrest broke.The Christian Science Monitor suggested that mobile telecommunications played an influential role in the "revolution."
The revolt in Tunisia began speculation that the Tunisian Jasmine Revolution would lead to protests against the multiple other autocratic regimes across the Arab world. This was most famously captured in the phrase asking whether "Tunisia is the Arab Gdańsk?". The allusion refers to the Polish Solidarity movement and Gdańsk's role as the birthplace of the movement that ousted Communism in Eastern Europe. The phrase appeared in outlets such as the BBC,as well as editorials by well known columnists Rami Khouri and Roger Cohen.
Larbi Sadiki suggested that although "conventional wisdom has it that 'terror' in the Arab world is monopolised by al-Qaeda in its various incarnations", there was also the fact that "regimes in countries like Tunisia and Algeria have been arming and training security apparatuses to fight Osama bin Laden [but] were [still] caught unawares by the 'bin Laden within': the terror of marginalisation for the millions of educated youth who make up a large portion of the region's population. The winds of uncertainty blowing in the Arab west – the Maghreb – threaten to blow eastwards towards the Levant as the marginalised issue the fatalistic scream of despair to be given freedom and bread or death." [ sic ]. If it suffers a setback we shall witness unprecedented repression by rulers struggling to maintain their absolute grip on power. Either way, a system that combined a starkly unequal distribution of wealth with the denial of freedoms has collapsed."A similar opinion by Lamis Ardoni carried by Al Jazeera said that the protests had "brought down the walls of fear, erected by repression and marginalisation, thus restoring the Arab peoples' faith in their ability to demand social justice and end tyranny." He also said that the protests that succeeded in toppling the leadership should serve as a "warning to all leaders, whether supported by international or regional powers, that they are no longer immune to popular outcries of fury" even though Tunisia's ostensible change "could still be contained or confiscated by the country's ruling elite, which is desperately clinging to power." He called the protests the "Tunisian intifada" which had "placed the Arab world at a crossroads." He further added that if the change was ultimately successful in Tunisia it could "push the door wide open to freedom in Arab word
Similarly, Mark LeVine noted that the events in Tunisia could spiral into the rest of the Arab world as the movement was "inspiring people...to take to the streets and warn their own sclerotic and autocratic leaders that they could soon face a similar fate." He then cited solidarity protests in Egypt where protesters chanted "Kefaya" and "We are next, we are next, Ben Ali tell Mubarak he is next;" and that Arab bloggers were supporting the movement in Tunisia as "the African revolution commencing...the global anti-capitalist revolution." He pointed to an article in al-Nahar that talked of an "inhuman globalisation" that had been imposed on the Arab world, however a "human" nationalism had not taken place. LeVine then accused the Obama administration in the United States of double standards when Clinton was in the region meeting with political and civil society leaders; however, she responded to a question about the protests, saying "We can't take sides", which was read[ by whom? ] as a failure to seize the "reins of history" and "usher in a new era" to "defeat the forces of extremism" without the violent conflict in the Afghanistan-Pakistan area. Pointing out Clinton's remarks about regimes whose "foundations are sinking into the sand" and needed "reform", LeVine argued that US foreign policy in the Middle East and the Muslim world was "equally in danger of sinking into the sands if the President and his senior officials are not willing to get ahead of history's suddenly accelerating curve." He added, "It is the US and Europe, as much as the leaders of the region, who in Clinton's words are in need of 'a real vision for that future.'" Finally he said there were two scenarios that could play out: "a greater democratic opening across the Arab world," or a similar situation to Algeria in the early 1990s when the democratic election was annulled and Algeria went into a civil war.
Robert Fisk asked if this was "The end of the age of dictators in the Arab world?" and partly answered the question in saying that Arab leaders would be "shaking in their boots". He also pointed out that the "despot" Ben Ali sought refuge in the same place as the ousted Idi Amin of Uganda and that "the French and the Germans and the Brits, dare we mention this, always praised the dictator for being a 'friend' of civilised Europe, keeping a firm hand on all those Islamists." He notably pointed at the "demographic explosion of youth" of the Maghreb, though he said that the change brought about in Tunisia may not last. He thinks "this is going to be the same old story. Yes, we would like a democracy in Tunisia – but not too much democracy. Remember how we wanted Algeria to have a democracy back in the early Nineties? Then when it looked like the Islamists might win the second round of voting, we supported its military-backed government in suspending elections and crushing the Islamists and initiating a civil war in which 150,000 died. No, in the Arab world, we want law and order and stability." He added that "If it can happen in the holiday destination Tunisia, it can happen anywhere, can't it?"
Blake Hounshell wrote on Foreign Policy.com that the Tunisian precedent raised the prospect of a "new trend. There is something horrifying and, in a way, moving about these suicide attempts. It's a shocking, desperate tactic that instantly attracts attention, revulsion, but also sympathy."
The use of communication technologies, and the Internet in particular, has been widely credited as contributor to the mobilisation of protests.A blog associated with Wired described the intricate efforts of the Tunisian authorities to control such online media as Twitter and Facebook. Other regional regimes were also on higher alert to contain spillover effects that may ensue.
On 11 March 2011, Reporters Without Borders gave its annual award for online media freedom to the Tunisian blogging group Nawaat.org. Founded in 2004, it played an important role rallying anti-government protesters by reporting on the protests which the national media ignored.
Bouazizi's actions resonated across the region, with many others across the Arab world following suit. In January 2011, the BBC reported: "Clearly the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi has resonated across the region...'There is great interest. The Egyptian people and the Egyptian public have been following the events in Tunisia with so much joy, since they can draw parallels between the Tunisian situation and their own.'"
After the beginning of the uprising in Tunisia, similar protests took place in almost all Arab countries from Morocco to Iraq, as well as in other states, ranging from Gabon to Albania, Iran, Kazakhstan, United States, India and others. Following weeks of protests, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak resigned on 11 February. Major protests against longtime Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi broke out on 17 February and quickly deteriorated into civil war, ultimately resulting in the downfall of the Gaddafi regime later in the year. Syria experienced a major uprising of people calling for the removal of President Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian uprising also deteriorated into a civil war, giving rise to the militant group, ISIS, and partly causing the current refugee crisis. In addition, Yemen, Bahrain, and Algeria have seen major protests.
However, a financial analyst in Dubai suggested that "the spillover effect of the political turbulence to the large countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council is non-existent as there are no similar drivers."
In mid-May 2013, Tunisia banned the Salafist Ansar al-Sharia from carrying out party congresses. The day after the congress was due to be carried out, clashes between security forces and party supporters in Kairouan resulted in one death amid attempts to disperse those who wanted to carry out the events.
The Tunisian president, Beji Caid Essebsi, renewed the state of emergency in October 2015 for three months due to previous terror attacks.
The politics of Tunisia takes place within the framework of a unitary semi-presidential representative democratic republic, with a President serving as head of state, Prime Minister as head of government, a unicameral legislature and a court system influenced by French civil law. Between 1956 and 2011, Tunisia operated as a de facto one-party state, with politics dominated by the secular Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) under former Presidents Habib Bourguiba and then Zine el Abidine Ben Ali. However, in 2011 a national uprising led to the ousting of the President and the dismantling of the RCD, paving the way for a multi-party democracy. October 2014 saw the first democratic parliamentary elections since the 2011 revolution, resulting in a win by the secularist Nidaa Tounes party with 85 seats in the 217-member assembly.
Mohamed Ghannouchi is a Tunisian politician who was Prime Minister of Tunisia from 1999 to 2011. Regarded as a technocrat, Ghannouchi was a long-standing figure in the Tunisian government under President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
The Constitution of Tunisia is the supreme law of the Tunisian Republic. The constitution is the framework for the organization of the Tunisian government and for the relationship of the federal government with the governorates, citizens, and all people within Tunisia. Tunisia's first modern constitution was the Fundamental Pact of 1857. This was followed by the Constitution of 1861, which was not replaced until after the departure of French administrators in 1956, by the constitution of 1959. It was adopted on 1 June 1959 and amended in 1999 and 2002, after the Tunisian constitutional referendum of 2002.
Ahmed Najib Chebbi or simply Najib Chebbi is a Tunisian attorney and politician.
Fouad Mebazaa is a Tunisian politician who was President of Tunisia from 15 January 2011 to 13 December 2011. He was active in Neo Destour prior to Tunisian independence, served as Minister of Youth and Sports, Minister of Public Health, and Minister of Culture and Information, and was President of the Chamber of Deputies of Tunisia from 1991 to 2011.
Ahmed Ounaies, also spelled Ahmed Ounaiss, is a Tunisian politician and diplomat who was Foreign Minister for two weeks in the transitional government established after the 2010–2011 Tunisian uprising. Public pressure forced him to resign a week after controversially praising French Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie, who openly supported Ben Ali and helped deliver tear gas to police forces. He was only in office for two weeks.
The Ennahdha Party, also known as Renaissance Party or simply Ennahdha, is a Muslim democratic political party in Tunisia. Founded as "The Movement of Islamic Tendency" in 1981, Ennahdha was inspired by the Iranian revolution, and Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, but has also been called "the mildest and most democratic Islamist party in history". Rached Ghannouchi was the movement's founder and remains its president.
Mohamed Beji Caid Essebsi is a Tunisian politician who has been President of Tunisia since December 2014. Previously he served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1981 to 1986 and as Prime Minister from February 2011 to December 2011.
The international reactions to the Tunisian Revolution were generally supportive of the Tunisian people's right to protest, though several governments continued to voice support for President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali up to and even after his government's largely peaceful overthrow in January 2011.
Lina Ben Mhenni is a Tunisian Internet activist, blogger and assistant lecturer in linguistics at Tunis University.
Chokri Belaïd, also transliterated as Shokri Belaïd, was a Tunisian lawyer and politician who was an opposition leader with the left-secular Democratic Patriots' Movement. Belaïd was a vocal critic of the Ben Ali regime prior to the 2011 Tunisian revolution and of the then Islamist-led Tunisian government. On 6 February 2013, he was fatally shot outside his house in El Menzah, close to the Tunisian capital, Tunis. As a result of his assassination, Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali announced his plan to dissolve the existing national government and to form a temporary "national unity" government.
Mohamed Brahmi was a Tunisian politician. Brahmi was the founder and former leader of the People's Movement, which, under his leadership, won two seats in the constituent election in 2011.
A political crisis evolved in Tunisia following the assassination of leftist leader Mohamed Brahmi in late July 2013, during which the country's mainly secular opposition organized several protests against the ruling Troika alliance that was dominated by Rashid al-Ghannushi's Islamist Ennahda Movement. The events came as part of the aftermath of the Tunisian Revolution which ousted the country's longtime president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, followed by a general election which saw Ennahda win a plurality alongside Moncef Marzouki's allied Congress for the Republic (CPR). The crisis gradually subsided when Prime Minister Ali Laarayedh resigned and a new constitution was adopted in January 2014.
Liberalism in Tunisia or Tunisian Liberalism is a school of political ideology that encompasses various political parties in the country.
Socialism in Tunisia or Tunisian socialism is a political philosophy that is shared by various political parties of the country. It has played a role in the country's history from the time of the Tunisian independence movement against France up through the Tunisian Revolution to the present day.
Barack Obama mentioned me in a speech. He said I was a cop. He said I slapped Mohamed Bouazizi. He's a stupid fool for not checking. Americans are great people, but you need to do a better job of checking your information.
L'identité de ces hommes n'a pas été établie, mais un haut responsable militaire, s'exprimant sous couvert de l'anonymat, a affirmé que des éléments loyaux au président Ben Ali se déployaient à travers la Tunisie.
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