The Know Your City section takes a slight detour from its focus area to talk about Tunisia, a major player in what turned out to be one of the most important events of the last decade- The Arab Spring.
On December 17 2010, when a young Tunisian
fruit vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi self-immolated in protest of the
systemic oppression that he faced on the streets of Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia,
little did he know, or anyone who witnessed that event for that matter, that it
would light the spark that would later engulf North Africa in the flames of
revolution. That flame, which the world now refers to as the Arab Spring, gave
rise to great unrest in the region; unrest from which countries like Egypt and
Libya most notably, have yet to recover. Which brings us to back to the country
from where it all started.
Tunisia, a small country with a population of about 11
million sandwiched between North African giants Algeria and Libya on the Mediterranean
coast and on the upper reaches of the Sahara desert, is most known for being a
port of vital strategic importance and also as the site of the Roman Empire’s
once great rivals, Carthage. It has its capital at Tunis, the biggest city in
the country, with other major cities being Sfax and Sousse. Tunisia has a diverse
economy which deals in agriculture, mining and petroleum trade among other
things. Islam is the major religion and Tunisian Arabic the national language
with French being an operational language and Berber being spoken by minorities
in the South.
For centuries, Tunisia had been under the rule of various
authoritarian rules- from the Ottomans to the French to post-independence autocracies
which saw the gradual erosion of Democracy in the region. The previous government, under the 23 year old presidency of
Zine El Abedin Ben Ali, saw the tipping point which culminated in the Arab
Spring which spread to other parts of North Africa. President Ben Ali was
forced to flee Tunisia in January 2011, leaving the country in a state of
transition- a state from which neighbouring Libya and Egypt have not yet
emerged from. Tunisia, however, has managed to rise from the flames to develop into
a newly democratic nation.
The tireless action of civil society groups in the region
has led to eventual transition to a a constitutional republic with
a president serving as head of state, prime minister as head of government, a unicameral parliament,
and a civil law court system. The Constitution
of Tunisia was adopted on the 14th of January 2014 and the first
democratic elections were held on the 23rd of November 2014, bringing in Beji
Caib Essebsi as president and Habib Essi as prime minster.
To add the cherry on
the cake, it was known on the 9th of October 2015, that the Tunisian
National Dialogue Quartet, the group of civil society activists that helped
facilitate the transition, had been awarded the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize, which
perhaps closes the chapter which Mohamed Bouazizi started on that fateful
December day. Tunisia has truly emerged from it a stronger nation, the
undoubted success story of the Arab Spring.
Posted Date: 10 Oct 2015 | Views (1066)