Tunisia Revolt Though the Eyes of its Youth

photo property of: Crethi Plethi

Rising unemployment has struck a nerve with many young Tunisians who hoped that their successful 'Jasmine Revolt,' which forced former dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali to Saudi Arabia on January 14, would quickly result in rapid job growth. Tunisia's post-revolutionary blues has caused many Tunisians to lose confidence in the progress of their revolt but for 21-year-old Myriam Ben Ghazi the revolution is just beginning.

"Small protests or gatherings expressing discontent against the regime of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali had never happened before in Tunisia, so when the revolution started, I freaked because for twenty-three years we were never allowed to express our opinions publicly. I wondered if this would really work or if people’s lives would be lost for nothing.

I think that the turning point for us was that we finally saw the corruption; even though we always knew that it existed, it was the norm to just look away.  When people went to the streets to demand change, it was clear we were finally facing it.

We had to face it, because remounts of Ben Ali's Democratic Constitutional Rally (RCD) party are still working behind the scenes in the government and in the judiciary. The best example would be the trials and sentencing of Ben Ali and his wife Leila Trabelsi in absentia. Orchestrating their trials is really a piece of theatre, because they're off enjoying their life in Saudi Arabia while we continue suffering from poverty. But for the public it’s kind of a drug that government gives us to keep us quiet.

As a young Tunisian, I started think about what young people need to do in order to keep the country on a path towards democracy. Since I don’t know how to take up arms and fight, I decided to continue the struggle as a writer through journalism so that I can bring the voices of young people to the outside world.

I think the revolution will take a long time, but the real revolution that we need right now is one of the mind, because the only way we will be able to progress forward is if people start to make changes within themselves. Even after the revolution people are still thinking with the same mentality of the past and believing that nothing has really changed. But we have gained our freedom, we're facing corruption, and in the time we'll grow economically. What's important now is that focus on the October 23 elections, where Tunisians will be able to elect a constituent assembly to reform the constitution. The last time our constitution was amended was nine years ago, after the Tunisian constitutional referendum of 2002.

For me voting is another way that we as young people will be able to continue changing Tunisia by our own hand, rather than others making the decisions for us.

As for the international media, they are always looking for the latest scoop and hot news so if there is war happening in Libya and Tunisia is calming down then they will look to Libya of course instead of really exploring the intricate details of what is going on in Tunisia. However, right now we don’t need the media to be all over us we just need to focus on our own issues, concentrate on the elections and establish democracy in Tunisia. Then once Tunisia becomes an economic success then the media will look at Tunisia as the place that started the Arab Spring two or three years ago and hail the country for all the economic, social and political changes."