The interim government had forbidden protests under emergency laws, but growing frustration at the lack of political change culminated in a week of continuous protests starting with a march of 40,000 people on Friday 18 February.

The following Friday, designated as a day of rage throughout the Middle East and North Africa, numbers in Tunis swelled to over 100,000. Protesters demanded a complete break from the former regime, with chants accusing the interim government of confiscating the revolution. When a huge sit-down protest took place the government responded by issuing a statement of token concessions targeting the assets of ousted members of Ben Ali’s regime, while simultaneously issuing a decree banning further protests under threat of mass arrest.

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Tunisia: masses in revolt

The uprising in Tunisia is a response to the world capitalist crisis which is pushing more people into poverty and social misery; the people have said ‘enough!’ Annie Richards reports on the uprising in Tunisia.

The trigger that unleashed waves of protest across Tunisia was the tragic self-immolation of 26-year-old street vendor, Mohammed Bouazizi, in the central Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid on 17 December 2010. The police had confiscated Mohammed’s stall and, when he went to complain, local government officials refused to speak with him. In desperation, he set himself alight with paint stripper. According to a friend, Mohammed had experienced police harassment since he started working to support his family at the age of ten by selling fruit in the city centre. In Tunisia, a country with a 30% youth unemployment rate, working in the informal economy is commonplace. Even for university graduates, finding stable employment is increasingly difficult without personal connections.

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