Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sidi Bouzid

Last week I spent some time in Sidi Bouzid, the birthplace of the Arab Spring revolutions. It was here where an unemployed fruit and vegetable seller self-immolated after his cart and scales were confiscated. His act sparked the protests that spread throughout Tunisia and ended with the resignation of the dictator Ben Ali. Actors in other countries were inspired by the success of the Tunisian revolution and tried their own, with varying success. But the fact is, it started here. And I was lucky enough to talk to many of the people instrumental in making it happen.

Despite expectations of a "Marshall Plan" for Tunisia's poor regions like Sidi Bouzid, very little has changed. Poverty and unemployment are perhaps even worse now than they were in December 2010 when this all started. People talk of a need for a "second revolution."

Here are some of the more interesting sights from Sidi Bouzid:

This is a memorial to Mohammed Bouazizi who started the protests when he self immolated. This is a representation of his vegetable cart. I noticed it already was broken - perhaps inadvertently representing the neglect of the area. Or, it could suggest that the Bouazizi family has fallen out of favor in the area.

A banner to Bouazizi, with pictures of protest in the Middle East and worldwide inspired by the Arab Spring.

Some graffiti. In blue "we will not forget you (our) martyr" and in yellow "17 December, Revolution of Freedom and Dignity." This is apparently the street where another Sidi Bouzid resident killed himself in protest.

This one, from the nearby city of Kasserine

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