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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

There are Western concerns Islamic State militants soon may unleash offensive in kingdom that could create upheaval - though nation has solid intel, grip on banking system More

Asian-Americans Enter Public Office in Record Numbers

A steady deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid