Fanack Home / Tunisia / Past to Present / The Tunisian Revolution

The Tunisian Revolution

Political disillusionment, caused by fierce police suppression and economic hardship – most evident in the high poverty and unemployment rates, particularly among Tunisia’s youth – had long undermined the legitimacy of the autocratic Ben Ali regime in the eyes of most Tunisians. When, on 17 December 2010, a street vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi, a resident of the impoverished town of Sidi Bouzid, protested his plight by self-immolation, protests were sparked that led eventually to a general uprising against the Ben Ali regime.

In the beginning, protests were limited mostly to Tunisia’s south, the country’s poorest region, where the police tried to contain demonstrators through arrests and extreme violence. Eventually, however, through media and online platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, news of the clashes reached other parts of the country, which responded with similar uprisings. The Tunisian General Labour Union (Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail, UGTT), Tunisia’s powerful trade union, as well as Facebook and Twitter facilitated the organization of mass protests that would rock the entire country.

What was initially a protest of impoverished and marginalized people came to involve all social groups – including professionals such as lawyers, doctors, and teachers – who took to the streets protesting their economic situation and demanding more political rights. Ben Ali’s response to what would become a general uprising against his regime was at first marked by the use of violence and public threats of punishment, and he blamed national and international media for spreading false information and supporting the actions of what he called ‘extremists’.

When this failed to contain the protests, which became increasingly powerful and widespread, the regime was forced to resign, and Ben Ali and his family fled to Saudi Arabia on 14 January 2011.

The January 2011 revolution in pictures

Further Reading

The elections held on 23 October 2011 resulted in the establishment of coalition government consisting of Ennahda (Islamists; 89 seats), Congress for the Republic (CPR, secular, social democrats; 29) and the Democratic Forum for L...
A new government, headed by Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi, was established on 17 January 2011, but this did not calm the protesters, who denounced the presence in the government of ministers of Ben Ali's ruling Constitutional ...

We would like to ask you something …

Fanack is an independent media organisation, not funded by any state or any interest group, that distributes in the Middle East and the wider world unbiased analysis and background information, based on facts, about the Middle East and North Africa.

The website grew rapidly in breadth and depth and today forms a rich and valuable source of information on 21 countries, from Morocco to Oman and from Iran to Yemen, both in Arabic and English. We currently reach six million readers annually and growing fast.

In order to guarantee the impartiality of information on the Chronicle, articles are published without by-lines. This also allows correspondents to write more freely about sensitive or controversial issues in their country. All articles are fact-checked before publication to ensure that content is accurate, current and unbiased.

To run such a website is very expensive. With a small donation, you can make a huge impact. And it only takes a minute. Thank you.