News / Africa

Tunisian Blogger Undeterred by Censorship

Cecily Hilleary

The youth whose self-immolation triggered the recent protests in Tunisia has died from his burns. Twenty-six year-old Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in mid-December after police confiscated his market stall in the southern city of Sidi Bouzid.  Selling fruit and vegetables had been the sole source of income for the university graduate and his family.  The incident set off widespread and unprecedented protests in cities across Tunisia—and across the internet.

VOA spoke with Lina Ben Mhenni, a Tunisian linguistics teacher and activist who maintains a Facebook page and Twitter feed, as well as the blog “A Tunisian Girl.”  Though censored in her own country, her web pages and similar sites like them have been a primary source of news and information for journalists and observers outside the country. Existing restrictions in Tunisia have not deterred her.

“Everything is blocked here,” she says. “I use a proxy to access my blog, my Facebook profile, and …they censored my Twitter account. It is not accessible in Tunisia.”

Tunisian blogger Lina Ben Mhenni says popular frustration is beginning to outweigh fear of government reprisals
Tunisian blogger Lina Ben Mhenni says popular frustration is beginning to outweigh fear of government reprisals

Ben Mhenni says Tunisians are angry, and she believes the protests are a sign that frustration over joblessness now outweighs any fears of government reprisal. “People are protesting the lack of freedoms,” she says. “For example, in Tunisia, you cannot express yourself. There are thousands and thousands of graduates who can’t find jobs. Life is very expensive.”

According to media watchdog Reporters without Borders, since the protests began last month, the government of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has cracked down on social networking sites harder than ever before, especially Facebook, which has around 2 million users in Tunisia alone.

Ben Mhenni admits she is nervous. She says that last week, a fellow cyber-dissident was arrested; she says she has been followed and “verbally harassed” by police officers. She believes she could be arrested at any time.

“But you know,” she says, “I believe in what I do. I think that we have to tell what is happening here. I’m convinced [of] what I’m doing…. If we want things to change, we have to make sacrifices.”

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

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus 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.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid