Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.

×

‘Our victory belongs to our young generation’

Red Pepper’s Christine Morderbacher spoke to five Tunisians about recent events and the hopes they have for their country.

January 23, 2011
5 min read

“We are like one hand. I protect your brother and sister, you protect my father and mother – we protect this country!” shouts Walid, a young, unemployed Tunisian, in front of hundreds of people in Bizerte, a city in the far north of the smallest North African country. He is part of a new generation that is, all of a sudden, full of hope. After a month of turmoil, the people are ready to deal with crime and corruption by themselves, to the highest levels. The population of an Arab country has managed to overthrow a dictatorial regime on their own for the first time. Their actions show that the people themselves can bring about political change and are neither dependent on Islamist movements nor on invasions of the Western world.

Political analysts have insisted that it will be hard for democracy to develop within a short time period. They note that the opposition is weak and members of disposed President Ben Ali’s Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) are still in positions of power. The people are not going to idly wait. They have returned to the streets, in all the major cities, unhappy that interim President Foued Mebazaâ and provisional Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi reappointed so many ministers from Ben Ali’s government, and demand the complete resolution of the RCD. In fractious times, Red Pepper spoke to Tunisians living in at home and abroad about events taking place. For many, it is the first time in decades that they have been able to talk freely about their political opinions and hopes for the future.

Amel is a young Tunisian Producer who has lived in Brussels for nearly a decade. She followed events mostly via Facebook:

“The last two weeks were progressively tense. The immolation of Bouazizi was an alarm siren to me. I could not expect something good but the coming days proved the opposite. The hope of seeing the country freed from its oppressors was mixed with positive anxiety over the aftermath; about reconstruction and the political project to build up to ensure real changes. Today, it’s more a negative anxiety, nurtured by everyday news reporting the terror caused by supposedly 3000 fired presidential policemen and armed militias. But we are determined to get back our freedom of speech, benefit from more job opportunities and to decide freely on whom should run our country. We want, more than ever, to get back our dignity, and effective participation in the public sphere.”

Aymen is a computer engineer in the capital Tunis. He participated in street protests:

“On the one hand people here in Tunis are celebrating and are happy about the victory over [disposed President] Ben Ali. But on the other hand, there is an anxiety in the air, a feeling of instability and insecurity. We need to react fast now because Tunisia does not want to slip into an economic crisis and we need stability. The next step is to change the constitution so that we gain time to not have elections in two months because the opposition needs more time. But at least now we have freedom! I hope that Tunisia will be a role-model for young people in other African or Arab countries.”

Abir is a young language student:

“I am mourning for those who have lost their lives during the protests and at the same time I feel joy because of our revolution and proud of being Tunisian. But I have no hope for the new government as long as the whole party of Ben Ali is not dissolved. The Tunisian Constitution should be changed because it serves only the interests of the ruling class. I only have confidence in the Tunisian trade unions, which have again proved that you can count on them.”

Hamadi is a 50-year-old father who has lived in the Medina (town center) of Tunis for most of his life: “The future belongs to our young people under 35 years. I mean the young generation of Tunisians, excluding fundamentalists and members of the RCD led by former President Ben Ali.”

Sophia is a photographer from La Marsa, a small suburb outside of Tunis. She documented events over the past month with her camera:

“The last month was a battle for us, a real discovery. For years we were living in fear, lacking confidence, but we fought and we found ourselves; our dignity and pride. Now we have to look forward, believe in our strength as a people and stop hiding. Nobody would have believed a couple of weeks ago that we could become an example for the rest of the world! The country is still suffering from the consequences of 23 years of authoritarian leadership, [but] I believe that we will succeed in building a new country. Everyone I met during the protests helped me to believe in my dream of living in a country of freedom and mutual respect! It is important for people to know to that we here in Tunis don t talk about the jasmine revolution, that is only the Western press who created this term. We name it by the facts: fire and blood revolution, the revolution of freedom.”

Red Pepper is an independent, non-profit magazine that puts left politics and culture at the heart of its stories. We think publications should embrace the values of a movement that is unafraid to take a stand, radical yet not dogmatic, and focus on amplifying the voices of the people and activists that make up our movement. If you think so too, please support Red Pepper in continuing our work by becoming a subscriber today.
Why not try our new pay as you feel subscription? You decide how much to pay.
Share this article  
  share on facebook     share on twitter  

Working class theatre: Save Our Steel takes the stage
A new play inspired by Port Talbot’s ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign asks questions about the working class leaders of today. Adam Johannes talks to co-director Rhiannon White about the project, the people and the politics behind it

The dawn of commons politics
As supporters of the new 'commons politics' win office in a variety of European cities, Stacco Troncoso and Ann Marie Utratel chart where this movement came from – and where it may be going

A very social economist
Hilary Wainwright says the ideas of Robin Murray, who died in June, offer a practical alternative to neoliberalism

Art the Arms Fair: making art not war
Amy Corcoran on organising artistic resistance to the weapons dealers’ London showcase

Beware the automated landlord
Tenants of the automated landlord are effectively paying two rents: one in money, the other in information for data harvesting, writes Desiree Fields

Black Journalism Fund – Open Editorial Meeting
3-5pm Saturday 23rd September at The World Transformed in Brighton

Immigration detention: How the government is breaking its own rules
Detention is being used to punish ex-prisoners all over again, writes Annahita Moradi

A better way to regenerate a community
Gilbert Jassey describes a pioneering project that is bringing migrants and local people together to repopulate a village in rural Spain

Fast food workers stand up for themselves and #McStrike – we’re loving it!
McDonald's workers are striking for the first time ever in Britain, reports Michael Calderbank

Two years of broken promises: how the UK has failed refugees
Stefan Schmid investigates the ways Syrian refugees have been treated since the media spotlight faded

West Papua’s silent genocide
The brutal occupation of West Papua is under-reported - but UK and US corporations are profiting from the violence, write Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson

Activate, the new ‘Tory Momentum’, is 100% astroturf
The Conservatives’ effort at a grassroots youth movement is embarrassingly inept, writes Samantha Stevens

Peer-to-peer production and the partner state
Michel Bauwens and Vasilis Kostakis argue that we need to move to a commons-centric society – with a state fit for the digital age

Imagining a future free of oppression
Writer, artist and organiser Ama Josephine Budge says holding on to our imagination of tomorrow helps create a different understanding today

The ‘alt-right’ is an unstable coalition – with one thing holding it together
Mike Isaacson argues that efforts to define the alt-right are in danger of missing its central component: eugenics

Fighting for Peace: the battles that inspired generations of anti-war campaigners
Now the threat of nuclear war looms nearer again, we share the experience of eighty-year-old activist Ernest Rodker, whose work is displayed at The Imperial War Museum. With Jane Shallice and Jenny Nelson he discussed a recent history of the anti-war movement.

Put public purpose at the heart of government
Victoria Chick stresses the need to restore the public good to economic decision-making

Don’t let the world’s biggest arms fair turn 20
Eliza Egret talks to activists involved in almost two decades of protest against London’s DSEI arms show

The new municipalism is part of a proud radical history
Molly Conisbee reflects on the history of citizens taking collective control of local services

With the rise of Corbyn, is there still a place for the Green Party?
Former Green principal speaker Derek Wall says the party may struggle in the battle for votes, but can still be important in the battle of ideas

Fearless Cities: the new urban movements
A wave of new municipalist movements has been experimenting with how to take – and transform – power in cities large and small. Bertie Russell and Oscar Reyes report on the growing success of radical urban politics around the world

A musical fightback against school arts cuts
Elliot Clay on why his new musical turns the spotlight on the damage austerity has done to arts education, through the story of one school band's battle

Neoliberalism: the break-up tour
Sarah Woods and Andrew Simms ask why, given the trail of destruction it has left, we are still dancing to the neoliberal tune

Cat Smith MP: ‘Jeremy Corbyn has authenticity. You can’t fake that’
Cat Smith, shadow minister for voter engagement and youth affairs and one of the original parliamentary backers of Corbyn’s leadership, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali

To stop the BBC interviewing climate deniers, we need to make climate change less boring
To stop cranks like Lord Lawson getting airtime, we need to provoke more interesting debates around climate change than whether it's real or not, writes Leo Barasi

Tory Glastonbury? Money can’t buy you cultural relevance
Adam Peggs on why the left has more fun

Essay: After neoliberalism, what next?
There are economically-viable, socially-desirable alternatives to the failed neoliberal economic model, writes Jayati Ghosh

With the new nuclear ban treaty, it’s time to scrap Trident – and spend the money on our NHS
As a doctor, I want to see money spent on healthcare not warfare, writes David McCoy - Britain should join the growing international movement for disarmament

Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India
Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India, by Shashi Tharoor, reviewed by Ian Sinclair

A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour
A Death Retold in Truth and Rumour: Kenya, Britain and the Julie Ward Murder, by Grace A Musila, reviewed by Allen Oarbrook


26