Monday, January 17, 2011
Tunisia revolution: Personal accounts

Demonstrations are continuing in Tunisia's capital, Tunis, after President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country Friday following weeks of protest. Nearly 80 people have died in the clashes over several weeks and 94 have been injured.


We’ve heard from Tunisians participating in the revolution, both in Tunisia and in the U.S., and their passion for change is palpable. While they celebrate Ben Ali’s ouster after 23 years of rule, tensions loom as the country waits to see what new government emerges.



Tunisians have protested for weeks over rising food prices, unemployment, government corruption and repression. Following Ben Ali’s ouster, demonstrators tore down massive billboards bearing his face, as captured by Marwan Guetari in Tunis on Saturday. Through a friend, Guetari said he had joined the throngs of protesters and welcomed the revolution.



Bassem Bouguerra, who lives in Northern California and has been mobilizing Tunisians there, has been getting updates on the revolution from his brother and other relatives living in Tunisia. His brother, Issam Bouguerra, shot the above photo of a “neighborhood watch” -- the people who are in charge of protecting their neighborhood from any remaining militia and policemen.


“I am online almost 18 hours a day talking to my family and friends back home,” he said. “We are protesting the dictatorship and not just the dictator. There are still people, who [are] key players in the dictatorship, in key positions in the new ‘transitional’ government.”



Tunisian-American Al Kallel posed with several Tunisian friends outside Facebook’s Palo Alto headquarters on Saturday. It was an expression of gratitude for Facebook, Twitter and other social-media sites that enabled young people in Tunisia to organize and share information, despite government censorship, he said.


“We wanted to thank Facebook for enabling our nation (both inside and outside the country) to freely share their opinion online, bridging our way to democracy,” Kallel wrote in an e-mail.


The personal perspective on what’s happening in Tunisia is a fascinating and valuable aspect of this story. We’d love to hear more about the situation from people on the ground. Are you there? Share your photos, videos and opinions with iReport.

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