Tunisians Demand Democracy - The Future of Tunisia and the Middle East

19 Jan 2011

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For the past month, Tunisia has been gripped by a wave of protests over unemployment, high food prices and government repression. Protests erupted in mid-December in the western region of the country, when a university graduate, Mohamed Bouazizi, unable to find employment set himself alight following police harassment for selling vegetables on the streets.

The protests were largely organised by young people using internet social networking sites and spread quickly throughout the country, including the capital of Tunis, which is currently under military curfew. Human rights groups say that security forces have killed more than 60 people since the onset of the protests.

Bouazizi, who died from his injuries, has become a symbol of the revolution in Tunisia.

Tunisia is one of a number of Arab countries, including Egypt that are run by long serving despotic Presidents.

In a remarkable development, last week Tunisian president Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali fled the country for Saudi Arabia after a 23-year reign, following the protracted protests where Tunisians took to the streets demanding not just jobs and cheaper food, but real democracy.

In the clip above, Al Jazeera's Inside Story interviews three Middle East specialists to come to grips with developments in Tunisia and their implications for the broader Arab world.

For additional commentary, you may be interested in this Democracy Now interview with Fares Mabrouk, a Tunisian activist in Paris who has been helping to disseminate videos of protests uploaded from mobile phones in Tunisia.

Also worth reading is Middle East correspondent, Robert Fisk's hard hitting analysis, The Brutal Truth about Tunisia.

Finally, Samer Shehata, an assistant professor of Arab politics, offers some perspective on "What Sparked the Tunisian Revolution" in an extremely informative interview with the Real News Network.

You can find this page online at http://sacsis.org.za/site/article/324.19.

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