Ah, the stuff you learn whilst peaking around on CNN.com. Just before today I shall admit to the fact that I never really read up all that much about Tunisia or paid all that much attention to it. So I shall admit that I was rather surprised when I heard that the protests in that country had gotten so bad that the country’s long time president, Zine El Abdine Ben Ali, has been forced to leave the country. Again I shall say that I am still doing my research on this subject as I am writing about it, but what little I have been able to learn has me smiling.
Tunisia for those of you that are even later to the party than I, is a country located along the Mediterranean coast of Africa, just a stone’s throw are from Italy. It is most noteworthy of being the location of the classical city state of Carthage and the place where that filmed the Tatooine scenes in the Star Wars saga. It has also been rule by one of the most repressive regimes in the world.
How bad is it? Well, according to The Economist, the country ranks 149 out of 167 countries in terms of the state of democracy. According to Reporters without Borders, it is 164 out of 178 in terms of press freedom. It is ranked along with such regimes as North Korea, Saudi Arabia and Turkmenistan as “Enemies of the Internet.” In the most recent presidential election in the country, two of the candidates running against Ben Ali actually said that they supported Ben Ali. The third candidate was not allowed to put up any sort of posters and hold any sort of meetings while state media declared Ben Ali the greatest thing since slice bread. Ben Ali won re election with over 80% of the vote. The President, his family and his political allies live lives in almost unimaginable luxury whilst many Tunisians have been struggling. As someone who himself has been struggling, I can sympathize.
Things began to come to ahead on December 18th when people in the Sidi Bouzid began to protest. The wanted simple things really, jobs, freedom, better standards of living. The government responded with force, but the people were not discouraged. More protest began to emerge throughout the country. Finally on the 14th, Ben Ali announced that the government was dissolved and that he was going to be taking a vacation. Well, the government must not have gotten the first part; since the Prime Minister decided that he was going to be running things until at least the next election.
We still do not know how things in Tunisia are going to turn out. While Ben Ali is gone, many of the other actors are still in place and there is still a curfew and tanks on the streets. The not ironically named at all Constitutional Democratic Rally remains in power as it has had for over fifty years and if anything, the previous presidents of Tunisia were worse that Ben Ali. But I have faith in the people of Tunisia and their Facebook/Twitter/iPhone organized “Jasmine Revolution” . I hope that they get all of these *ssholes out once and for all and start making a better life for themselves.