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

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Video Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL 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.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid