The Tunisian Arab Spring
The attempts to transition to democracy
On December 17, 2010 Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor, self immolated himself in protest and desperation to the severe oppression and humiliation he had been subjected to for years. 90% of Bouazizi’s body was severely burnt and two weeks later Bouazizi passed away in a local hospital (Gardner, 2011). Bouazizi’s protest not only sparked an upset but was also was the product of chaos, havoc, and turmoil in Tunisia. Leading too widespread protests and eventually to the Tunisian revolution and furthermore to the Arab spring; a pro-democracy rebellion that is moving across the Middle East and North Africa (Hanif, 2011). This paper will examine before the spark of the Arab Spring and the prospects of advancement to democracy. It will look at where Tunisia is in the present day, and the aftermath of riots, demonstrations, and protests in order to achieve democracy.
Mohamed Bouazizi was raised in an area where bureaucrats had high power and insignificant feelings concerning the rights and freedoms of civilians. At just ten years old Bouazizi became the breadwinner of his family, consisting of seven others. At nineteen years old he removed himself out of school. This was in efforts to raise enough money for his five siblings to be capable to continue through school. Local police terrorized Bouazizi publically nearly everyday. Usually resulting in stolen merchandise, fines, and physical harm (Ryan, 2011). Following the self-immolation there was a massive wave of riots, demonstrations, and protests. Many saw Mohamed Bouazizi as a hero and inspiration to the country for. Larbi Sadiki, a writer and professor at the University of Exeter, wrote an article The Bouazizi ‘Big Bang’. Within the article Sadiki states “Mohamed Bouazizi is considered to be the spark to the Arab Spring.” Furthermore Sadiki goes on to voice “The man and the act spawned a hugely unprecedented movement, forever altering the Arab political landscape, delivering the much-vaunted 'breakthrough' in the fight against autocracy.” (Sadiki, 2011)
The Republic of Tunisia was first recognized in 1956 by the French. Tunisia remains the smallest country in North Africa and has a population of 10.7 million, 98% of which are Arabic. The main predominate religion being Muslim. The additional cultures being Christianity and Jewish, which make up 2% of the remaining religion (The World Factbook, 2012). Prior to the recent events and the attempt of a transition to democracy that is happening, Tunisia was formerly an authoritarian government. Tunisia had no historical knowledge or experience of liberal democracy and originates from an extended history of oppression, lack of freedom, free speech, cruelty, poverty, and homelessness along with many other undesirable factors to the Tunisian society (Ryan 2011).
Habib Bourguiba was Tunisia’s first President. Bourguiba remained in office from July 25, 1957 until November 7th, 1987. Once Bourguiba got into office he quickly established a one-party state (The World Factbook, 2012). When Bourguiba was declared unfit to proceed in office, due to medical issues. Bourguiba’s minister and military figure, which was Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, then took over office after Bourguiba’s 30-year span as ruling President. Ben Ali served as Head of State as well as had influence over the court system from 1887 to 2011(Black, 2010). Ben Ali was consistently re-elected with huge majorities each election.
Mid December 2010, following the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi is when chaos and disorder began. Another young man killed himself in protest of the high unemployment rates. The young man chanted “no for misery, no for unemployment.” Before touching an electric cable. The younger generation began riots and protests by crowding streets and obliterating the countries capital, Tunis....
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Black, I. (2010, July 13). Amnesty international censures Tunisia over human rights. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jul/13/amnesty-criticises-tunisia-human-rights
Ben Ali quits after 23 years in power & leaves Tunisia
Hanif, M. (2011, May 27). G8 pledges billions to foster Arab spring. Retrieved from http://boostlexicon.blogspot.ca
"Tunisia." The World Factbook
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Tunisia: Deposed leader to be tried in absentia next week (2011, June 14)
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