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 According to Gritli, mundane glorifications of the country’s leaders in print and on television have been replaced by spontaneous and unfettered reporting.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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

America's Most Exotic Presidential Pets

From alligators to bears, the White House has been home to some unusual presidential pets over the years 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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs