Tunisia: A Paradise Lost

10.01.2014 Author: Essia Atrous

ostovar20110718042830357In less than two weeks Tunisia will celebrate the third anniversary of the Jasmin revolution at a time when the future was never so  uncertain and so confusing . In fact as this date , 14th January the day Ben Ali run away , approaches more and more questions are raised, people are afraid of losing hope and the freedom of expression that blossomed right after the fall of the dictator.

The reasons behind this gloom atmosphere are well known by the local population –  the main is the inability of the troika led by the Islamists  that were elected on October 23 2011 to fulfill the promises they had made to the oppressed, to those who suffered the most and who sacrificed their lives to put an end to torture and corruption.

When Bouazizi set himself on fire, he actually managed to put the entire Arab region ablaze. After this tragedy Tunisians thought there should never be a day when a young  Muslim  would part with his life in a such painful and horrific way. Unfortunately more than two hundred young people in Tunisia  have followed the Bouazizi steps, only this time around nobody seems to notice or care.  It’s been only two weeks since the a case of mass suicide committed by the people from three different poor and neglected regions followed the path of Bouazizi because of the  frustration, humiliation and injustice they’ve experienced.

How could we possibly reach such a situation?  The answer may not be easy at all .One thing is sure that the day the new political powers turned away from the principles “freedom dignity and social justice” that drove the revolution movement,  was the day the revolution lost its momentum and betrayed the martyrs… This is the reason behind the government’s inability to fight  corruption, terrorism  and crippling poverty.

After the first political assassination of the secular  opposition leader Chokri Belaid on February 6 2012 and then the assassination of an elected deputy of the opposition on July 25 in the Republic celebration day   and the terrorist attacks on the national forces, Tunisian started comparing the today’s political  situation  with the one they were fighting against, and many do feel regret, especially especially  when it comes to security …

Instead of  looking for the best strategy to reform and to learn from its mistakes and regain back the people’s faith the new Government led by the Islamists that have come from exile or  years of prison couldn’t care less about the challenges the time presents them with The violence that was started by the small extremist groups against the representatives of the “elite” in the universities, at the theatres and in the broad daylight in the streets turned to be dangerous …

Three years later,  Tunisian are still waiting for a new constitution , but no one seems to know when the elections are to take place, meanwhile the economy is falling, unemployment is raising and the prices are skyrocketing. The middle class suffers, but it’s nothing in the comparison the poor are to face daily, meanwhile the political elite lives in a fairy tale world, light years away from attending the most pressing political and social aims. In three years we had four interim governments and yet  people continue to complain about the same anxieties: rising  prices, unemployment, instability, insecurity.

Last month interim President Marzouki decided not to attend a ceremony in Sidi Bouzid  the birthplace of the revolution , he was simply unwelcome there as well as the Prime minister and the President of the constituency.  Last year they’ve enjoyed a swarm of  tomatoes flying in their faces, the swarm that forced them to retreat.  It was the youth who toppled Ben Ali regime and it s the youth that still suffers the most …

Is there any hope?A lot of Tunisians have faith in the quartet announcement that Mehdi Jomaa the Industry minister would assume the role of Prime minister and form a government of technocrats after months of political deadlock ,still  strong measures are needed  to bring back the ability to dream in the Tunisian people …

Essia Atrous, political commentator, expert on the North African and Middle Eastern affairs, full-time journalist of the Assabah newspaper, exclusively for the “New Eastern Outlook” online magazine.