News / Middle East

Tunisians Ready to Embrace Democracy, Says Journalist With Inside View

Protesters during the Tunisia riots (file photo)
Protesters during the Tunisia riots (file photo)

Multimedia

Audio

Tunisia’s President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was ousted in an uprising last week, ending more than two decades of authoritarian rule. The anti-government protests in the North African country were generally fueled by high unemployment and a popular yearning for democracy and basic freedoms.

Listen to the full interview with VOA’s Lamia Gritli:

The ouster of Ben Ali, who fled to Saudia Arabia, has laid the ground for Tunisians to take steps towards free elections and the establishment of a government representative of its people. Is the country ready for it, especially if one takes into account possible regional repercussions? VOA’s Susan Yackee posed that question to Lamia Gritli, a native of Tunisia and journalist at VOA’s French-to-Africa Service.

Lamia Gritli, a native of Tunisia and VOA journalist, believes Tunisians are ready for democracy, but acknowledges that internal and external challenges remain
Lamia Gritli, a native of Tunisia and VOA journalist, believes Tunisians are ready for democracy, but acknowledges that internal and external challenges remain

According to Gritli, Tunisians have been waiting for this moment for years, but were only talking about it in private for fear of repressions.

Quoting Maya Jeridi, the general secretary of Tunisia's opposition Progressive Democratic Party, with whom she spoke, Gritli says that the recent protests demanding democracy, freedom of speech and other basic liberties are proof that Tunisians are ready for democracy.

Asked about the challenges Tunisians face in their attempt to build a new country, Gritli believes that the most serious among them, aside from conducting free elections, will be restoring order and tackling the current high unemployment rate.

Describing the new mood in the country as “happy,” Gritli is particularly encouraged about some of the immediate changes that have followed Ben Ali’s ouster. Among the most momentous, says she, has been the government’s loss of control over the media. According to Gritli, mundane glorifications of the country’s leaders in print and on television have been replaced by spontaneous and unfettered reporting.

Gritli does acknowledge that the change came unexpected and that it might not have happened at all had it not been for a desperate act by one lone man. She was referring to 26-year-old unlicenced street merchant Mohamed Bouazizi who set himself ablaze after police confiscated his cart. His self-immolation last December is widely believed to have triggered the riots that removed Ben Ali from power.

Regarding the lack of media coverage recent events in Tunisia have received in some other Arab countries, Gitli says she is not surprised as some regional strongmen might fear that these events could be a prelude to a larger revolution.

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

You May Like

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid