‘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.”


✹ Try our new pay-as-you-feel subscription — you choose how much to pay.

Greece’s heavy load
While the UK left is divided over how to respond to Brexit, the people of Greece continue to groan under the burden of EU-backed austerity. Jane Shallice reports

On the narcissism of small differences
In an interview with the TNI's Nick Buxton, social scientist and activist Susan George reflects on the French Presidential Elections.

Why Corbyn’s ‘unpopularity’ is exaggerated: Polls show he’s more popular than most other parties’ leaders – and on the up
Headlines about Jeremy Corbyn’s poor approval ratings in polls don’t tell the whole story, writes Alex Nunns

The media wants to demoralise Corbyn’s supporters – don’t let them succeed
Michael Calderbank looks at the results of yesterday's local elections

In light of Dunkirk: What have we learned from the (lack of) response in Calais?
Amy Corcoran and Sam Walton ask who helps refugees when it matters – and who stands on the sidelines

Osborne’s first day at work – activists to pulp Evening Standards for renewable energy
This isn’t just a stunt. A new worker’s cooperative is set to employ people on a real living wage in a recycling scheme that is heavily trolling George Osborne. Jenny Nelson writes

Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 24 May
On May 24th, we’ll be holding the third of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.

Our activism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit…
Reflecting on a year in the environmental and anti-racist movements, Plane Stupid activist, Ali Tamlit, calls for a renewed focus on the dangers of power and privilege and the means to overcome them.

West Yorkshire calls for devolution of politics
When communities feel that power is exercised by a remote elite, anger and alienation will grow. But genuine regional democracy offers a positive alternative, argue the Same Skies Collective

How to resist the exploitation of digital gig workers
For the first time in history, we have a mass migration of labour without an actual migration of workers. Mark Graham and Alex Wood explore the consequences

The Digital Liberties cross-party campaign
Access to the internet should be considered as vital as access to power and water writes Sophia Drakopoulou

#AndABlackWomanAtThat – part III: a discussion of power and privilege
In the final article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr gives a few pointers on how to be a good ally

Event: Take Back Control Croydon
Ken Loach, Dawn Foster & Soweto Kinch to speak in Croydon at the first event of a UK-wide series organised by The World Transformed and local activists

Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 19 April
On April 19th, we’ll be holding the second of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.

Changing our attitude to Climate Change
Paul Allen of the Centre for Alternative Technology spells out what we need to do to break through the inaction over climate change

Introducing Trump’s Inner Circle
Donald Trump’s key allies are as alarming as the man himself

#AndABlackWomanAtThat – part II: a discussion of power and privilege
In the second article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr reflects on the silencing of black women and the flaws in safe spaces

Joint statement on George Osborne’s appointment to the Evening Standard
'We have come together to denounce this brazen conflict of interest and to champion the growing need for independent, truthful and representative media'

Confronting Brexit
Paul O’Connell and Michael Calderbank consider the conditions that led to the Brexit vote, and how the left in Britain should respond

On the right side of history: an interview with Mijente
Marienna Pope-Weidemann speaks to Reyna Wences, co-founder of Mijente, a radical Latinx and Chincanx organising network

Disrupting the City of London Corporation elections
The City of London Corporation is one of the most secretive and least understood institutions in the world, writes Luke Walter

#AndABlackWomanAtThat: a discussion of power and privilege
In the first article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr reflects on the oppression of her early life and how we must fight it, even in our own movement

Corbyn understands the needs of our communities
Ian Hodson reflects on the Copeland by-election and explains why Corbyn has the full support of The Bakers Food and Allied Workers Union

Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 15 March
On 15 March, we’ll be holding the first of Red Pepper’s Race Section open editorial meetings.

Social Workers Without Borders
Jenny Nelson speaks to Lauren Wroe about a group combining activism and social work with refugees

Growing up married
Laura Nicholson interviews Dr Eylem Atakav about her new film, Growing Up Married, which tells the stories of Turkey’s child brides

The Migrant Connections Festival: solidarity needs meaningful relationships
On March 4 & 5 Bethnal Green will host a migrant-led festival fostering community and solidarity for people of all backgrounds, writes Sohail Jannesari

Reclaiming Holloway Homes
The government is closing old, inner-city jails. Rebecca Roberts looks at what happens next

Intensification of state violence in the Kurdish provinces of Turkey
Oppression increases in the run up to Turkey’s constitutional referendum, writes Mehmet Ugur from Academics for Peace

Pass the domestic violence bill
Emma Snaith reports on the significance of the new anti-domestic violence bill


26