2010 marked the beginning of what would come to be known as the Arab Spring, a series of both violent and nonviolent protests and movements that took place throughout the Middle East and northern Africa. It’s launching point? The Tunisian Revolution. After 23 long years, the Tunisian people decided to revolt against dictator, Zine El Abidine Ben Ail, after street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi publicly lit himself on fire until death in protest of his government. In January of 2011, Zine El Abidine Ben Ail was ousted from his seat, and a democracy was instituted.
Tunisia today is largely seen around the world as a success story, the power had finally been placed within the hands of the people. However, as 2016 marks the five year anniversary of the Tunisian Revolution, it would seem as if there is still much to be done, as protests have broken out in response to government’s lack of commitment to implement new policies. Similar to Italy, the Tunisian political system is heavily dependent on coalitions (alliances between political parties to increase voter turnout). While this makes sense from a political standpoint, these coalitions have failed to live up to prosperous democratic dreams of the Tunisian people.
The main factors motivating protesters seem to be two issues: terrorism and unemployment. There have been multiple attacks in Tunisia just this year, usually stemming from ISIS groups based in the neighboring country of Libya. Less than one month ago there were 53 tunisians killed during a raid. While Tunisians are concerned about their safety, they also have their livelihood to worry about. According to World Bank, the unemployment rate in Tunisia is currently at 15.2%, even higher than it was during the revolution, when it stood at 13%. On January 18th, unemployed and hopeless, 28 year old Ridha Yahyaoui climbed an electrical pole where he was then electrocuted until death in an act of protest. Flashbacks to 2010 ran through the minds of Tunisians,resulting in both violent and nonviolent protests. It will be interesting to watch the constant evolution of Tunisia over the coming years as its people continue to fight for what they believe they deserve.