[Reportage] The disgruntlement in Tunis, ten years later

A decade after Ben Ali’s flight, hearts are not happy in Tunisia. The economic crisis, social problems and the growing Covid-19 are undermining the hope that dominated consciousness in 2011. Reports to a family in the capital.

From our special correspondent in Tunis,

You have to step over the huge mud puddles that the heavy cold rain this January has created to reach the door of Marwan Mami. The mask lowered under the chin, this father of three children coughs at full speed, it is very cold in his big house with thick walls in the northern suburbs of Tunis. The icy wind permeates the windows of the large building.

The economic crisis went through there, everything stopped for him and his family. As a 49-year-old, this graduate from a master’s degree in Arabic retraining had to engage in carpentry work to meet the needs of the household. “I thought, on January 14, 2011, that everything would change, for the better, we had many projects,” he laments, mentioning all the problems that have arisen in economic and social affairs for a decade. “We have never been supported, in fact, not even morally, by politicians. They never tried to listen to the street, so the street has inevitably lost confidence. “And Marwan asks himself, ‘Do I still want work tomorrow?’

Read also: January 14, 2011 ends the Ben Ali era in Tunisia

A “poorly finished game”

“I do not celebrate January 14, we find excuses. What should we celebrate? “Between two sips of hot tea bathed in almonds, Mohamed holds his head high, traditional Tunisian hat on his head. Still, it seems that both he and his son Marwan have a hard time digesting what happened. Suffice it to mention freedom of speech, found on January 14, 2011: “I accept freedom of speech, but it does not mean ‘say what you want and we will do what we want’.”

Democracy? A performance that neither suits this high-ranking candidate nor a good politician. “Democracy takes into account what the opposition says.” “This is all a bad game,” Marwan interrupted. “The revolution was not created to establish democracy,” he continues. “The revolution,” Marwan adds, “was a step forward, but everything was rejected by the Islamists. The people have been put on the sidelines. ”

The father and son refuse to regret the Ben Ali era, but temperament. “Dictator, I say no, despot, I say no, but stiff, I say yes. Whether we like it or not, he was a patriot,” says Mohamed, right in his boots at the top of his 75s. For this pensioner since 2011 it is the wife of the former president who set up the regime as it was at the end. ”At that time we felt humiliation, frustration due to corruption, the police, but today Tunisia is the leading exporter of jihadists, and looks for example also of unemployment, which continues to climb. ”

“Impunity continues”

In fact, unemployment over the last ten years or more, and especially among young graduates, has continued to rise, reaching 16% today. Mohamed, as a large number of Tunisians crossed the streets of the capital, made the sad observation that neither the social nor the economy were on the agenda of the politicians who succeeded each other after Ben Ali, as if the revolution had been stolen from the people who walked on the street to bring it down. “I am not nostalgic for Ben Ali,” he warns, but when I look at what is happening now, I see that there is no project, justice is not progressing, impunity continues. .[…]Politicians debunked the revolution, whose slogan was “freedom, dignity, work”.

“We must not give up”

Discreetly, Asma listens attentively to the conversation. Marwan’s fragile wife is also unemployed despite having a master’s degree in documentation. The young woman is looking for her words in French, she has no longer had the opportunity to practice it since she finished her studies and was at home.

Family life happens from day to day. Yet when she remembers January 14, 2011, happy memories sound on her face. She was 23 at the time. “We were with my friends at university, it was a joy,” she exclaims. “Of course we were afraid that the situation would degenerate, but above all we were happy because we could finally express ourselves. We had dreamed of this escape from Ben Ali. There was the happiness, we imagined another life with work, etc. “

If Asma lives thanks to Marwan and despairs of being unemployed, she remains optimistic about the future: “It did not work, we no longer trust politicians, but we should not. do not give up, even if it is very difficult. I hold out hope. I love my country, I love Tunisia. “We must have hope, yes, because we have children, but in fact we know nothing. We do not have a choice. But things have to move, it is more than necessary for the whole Tunisian people, “Marwan concludes bitterly.

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