News / Middle East

Tunisian Americans Overjoyed, Cautiously Optimistic About Tunisia's Future

They appeal to the new interim president, Fouad Mebazza, to make a quick decision to free all political prisoners, jailed opposition leaders and allow other leaders in exile to return home

A woman holds a picture of Tunisia's deposed leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, reading "Wanted", during a demonstration showing solidarity with Tunisians, in Marseille, southern France , Jan. 15, 2011. Unrest engulfed Tunisia on Saturday after a popular reb
A woman holds a picture of Tunisia's deposed leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, reading "Wanted", during a demonstration showing solidarity with Tunisians, in Marseille, southern France , Jan. 15, 2011. Unrest engulfed Tunisia on Saturday after a popular reb
Diaa Bekheet

Tunisians in the Washington, D.C., area are cautiously watching the dramatic events in their country, where unemployment-related protests drove long-time president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali into exile in Saudi Arabia. While they are thousands of miles away, they have strong opinions about developments there.

"We worry about the safety of the people back home," said Sami Boudriga, an Information Technology manager in Fairfax, Virginia. "My friends and family in Tunis told me that corrupt and authoritarian Ben Ali loyalists were trying to spread chaos and cause damage to the country in order to discredit the uprising and mar [the] celebration of Ben Ali's fall."

"The army set up a hotline for residents to call if they see any armed rental cars. In some towns, the army chased and captured some of them," he said.

Army tanks and police vehicles are patrolling the debris-littered streets following reports of gunfire Saturday night.

Another young Tunisian American, who identified herself as Fatima, said she is extremely happy that President Ben Ali's regime has fallen. "Almost all Tunisians here in Washington, Virginia and Maryland are overjoyed because the big liars are now gone," she said. "They have been lying to us for the past 23 years of dictatorship and oppression [of] my people."

In this photo released 28 Dec 2010 by the Tunisian President's office, Tunisia's President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, 2nd left, visits Mohamed Bouazizi, a young man who set himself on fire after police confiscated fruit and vegetables he sold without a perm
In this photo released 28 Dec 2010 by the Tunisian President's office, Tunisia's President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, 2nd left, visits Mohamed Bouazizi, a young man who set himself on fire after police confiscated fruit and vegetables he sold without a perm

"It's Bouazizi who ousted authoritarian, iron-fisted Ben Ali," Fatima said.

She was referring to university graduate and unemployed 26-year-old Mohammed Bouazizi who sold produce from a cart in his rural town of Sidi Bouzid to make ends meet. When authorities last December confiscated his cart on the grounds that he was operating without a license, he drenched himself in gasoline and set himself on fire outside a governor’s office.

His self-immolation triggered a wave of protests over price hikes and unemployment, the worst unrest since General Ben Ali took power in 1987.

But many Tunisian Americans fear that the so-called "Jasmine Revolution" will be stolen by what they call "fake opposition" leaders who they say sat in the parliament and rubber-stamped what Mr. Ben Ali did for 23 years.

"The real opposition is either in jail or in exile, like Rachid Ghannouchi of Ennahdha Islamic movement," Boudriga said. "We, Tunisian Americans, appeal to the country's new Interim President Fouad Mebazza to make a quick decision to free all political prisoners, jailed opposition leaders and allow other leaders in exile to return home."

Many are cautious about Tunisia's future. They feel that their country is now in limbo.

"Ben Ali's old guards are still in Tunis," Boudriga said. "If they do not remove the guilty party, the ruling RCD party, there [will] be no democracy in Tunisia. This party should be disbanded and dismantled. It was never from the people or for the people," he said.

Many Tunisians and Arabs in the Washington area hope the "Jasmine Revolution" will spread to other countries in North Africa and the Middle East Middle East putting an end to what they call systemic corruption and political repression in many of the region’s countries.

 

NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

 

License

You May Like

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid