Is another Arab spring about to begin?
In 2010, a fruit vendor, Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire in a way to protest against Tunisia’s economic problems. This eventually led to the ousting of the president of Tunisia at that time, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. The protest in turn inspired other nations in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to stage mass demonstrations against their governments. From then on, a wave which came to be known as the Arab Spring began.
Did Mohamed Bouazizi die for nothing?
On Thursday, a Tunisian youth in the city of Kasserine took to the streets to protest against the country’s immense unemployment (which rose by 15.3%). As history repeats itself, this was sparked by the death of a graduate who died in protest against his inability to get a job.
The student whose name was Reda Yahyaoui, a 28 year old, was denied a government job. He was electrocuted to his death when he climbed a power pole to revolt.
This event places emphasis on the fact that although there was a successful transition to democracy, as the Tunisians wanted, no significant change has occurred to eliminate the problems Tunisians faced pre-Arab Spring. An unemployed youth told the Associated Press, “We have been waiting for things to get better for five years and nothing has happened,” said the 30 year old “We are tired of broken promises.”
Another job seeker told the Middle East Eye, “This government has to be changed,” said 26-year-old Nidhal Bennasr. “Only during the elections do the politicians do their best. Otherwise they don’t care about us. They only take, they don’t give us anything. We don’t have a real democracy here.”
The protests in Kasserine kept on through the night despite the curfew set by the Tunisian government. Tunisians in other provinces also honored the death of Reda Yahyaoui in various ways. Some staged their own protests at government houses while others held photos of Yahyaoui and protested at the Habib Bourguiba Avenue.
The leaders of Tunisia have promised to assuage their problems. President Beji Caid Essebsi promised to provide more jobs while the Prime Minister will be returning earlier than planned from the World Economic Forum to visit Kasserine on Saturday.
READ MORE: Curfew Announced In Tunisia