Tunisians march on seventh anniversary of uprising

Tunisians march on seventh anniversary of uprising
From Al Jazeera - January 14, 2018

Tunis - Several thousand people marched through the main street of the Tunisian capital on Sunday, the seventh anniversary of the toppling of the country's former president after mass protests.

But for many people, this year's commemoration of the fall of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali turned into a protest against state austerity measures, unemployment and economic hardship.

Protesters chanted: "Work, Freedom and National Dignity" and "The people want the fall of the budget", among other slogans, as they marched along Habib Bourguiba Avenue.

The government recently passed a budget law for 2018 that increased taxes and the prices of basic goods, including food and gasoline.

"Now we are jobless again," said Amel Berrejab, 33, protesting with a group of university graduates who are unemployed despite having passed a national certification exam.

Berrejab said that while she has a master's degree and several years of teaching experience in private schools, the state has not been able to place her in a public school.

"This is Tunisia seven years after the revolution. The government cannot give the rights to its people, to its young [graduates], so this is really sad," she said.

Spreading protests

Civil society groups and human rights activists in Tunis launched the anti-austerity protests at the start of January under the banner Fech Nestannew (What are we waiting for?).

The rallies have since spread to several cities across the country and gained the support of the Popular Front, a coalition of leftist opposition parties.

A large contingent of Popular Front party members and a handful of parliament members marched on Sunday.

"There is nothing but poverty. Nothing changed since the revolution. Our revolution was stolen and the people won nothing," said Rachida Gheriani, 59, a Popular Front activist who came from the northwest governorate to participate in the march.

"Peoples' daily lives have gone down and there is no longer a middle class," she said.

Amani Abid, another Popular Front supporter, held up a yellow card during the march.

"This is the yellow card and on [January] 20 there will be a red card," the 24-year-old said, referring to a protest planned on that date in front of the Tunisian parliament.

The Tunisian government has accused Fech Nestannew protesters of engaging in acts of violence and looting during protests, several of which have taken place at night.

Aid to the poor

But the government is under increased pressure to cancel the budgetary measures.

'A better future'


Continue reading at Al Jazeera »