Zouhair Mobain: “Start of a Revolution”

At the start of his regime, Ben Ali claimed to be for political freedoms and freedom of expression but soon started to repress any opponents in order to increase his grip on power. He declared war on the Islamist movement early on in his dictatorship, and the repression reached a tense stand off at the 1989 elections. The regime isolated and persecuted young muslims who had until then been able to practise Islam without political interference and tens of thousands of young men were imprisoned.

The Ben Ali regime then seized the opportunity of the US-Lead worldwide “War on Terror” to eliminate the Islamic movement and other parties who would want to stand against him. He used it to divide the opposition by demanding; “you are either with me or against me” in facing this “threat” posed by terrorism. The oppression affected all opposition parties and people started to realise that the regime was against any freedom of speech, against anyone speaking out against Ben Ali.

Then was formed the “18 October” group, a radical and strong opposition. Opposition to Ben Ali bought people together irrespective of ideology. This sense of rejection of Ben Ali bought together two sides, nationalists opposing the regimes links with Israeli government and the other opposing his repression of freedom of expression and of liberty. These new forces started to work together in Trade Unions and within civil society.

This unified opposition was critical to the revolution and provided a strong foundation as a platform for the uprising. In addition, there was a single event, the uprising in the mining town of Gafsa in 2008 in protest to lack of employment and corruption, which was used by that opposition and youth movement. There are 150,000 jobless graduates who could not stand the situation any longer. When Mohammed Bouazizi set fire to himself on December 17, it highlighted the massive graduate unemployment. The revolution came through these young people, who had at their disposal new media and were able to communicate their message through Twitter/Facebook etc. Also, the continuous coverage by Al-Jazeera of the events allowed the true nature of the Ben Ali regime to be uncovered to the world.

When everyone saw how the protestors were being treated with fire and killing, they couldn’t stand by and this is how the revolution began.

The challenge is now for the opposition to resolve its differences and to work on a constitutional system that allows the differences to be resolved democratically. (from http://tunisiahumanrights.wordpress.com/2011/03/13/zouhair-mobain-%e2%80%9cstart-of-a-revolution%e2%80%9d/)



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