Over 300 arrested, dozens hurt after third night of unrest in Tunisia

Tomas Mccoy
January 13, 2018

The 2011 Arab Spring uprising and two Islamist attacks in 2015 have stymied foreign investment and tourism, which accounts for eight percent of Tunisia's economy.

Tunisia has been struggling with finances since the 2011 revolution, when Zine El Abidine Ben Ali - who ruled for more than 20 years - was forced to flee.

So far the protests have been on a less grander scale than those nine years ago.

Anger has been building up since the government said that, from January 1, it would increase the price of gasoil, some goods, and taxes on cars, phone calls, the internet, hotel accommodation and other items, part of austerity measures agreed with foreign lenders.

There were similar scenes in Kasserine, a town in Tunisia's neglected central region, with protesters burning tyres to block roads and some throwing stones at police.

"We had hoped that our lives would become better, that we get jobs and housing, but everything has turned for the worse", said Bashir Hussein, one of the disgruntled graduates.


Since Ben Ali's ouster, Tunisia has been grappling with political instability and militant attacks that have driven away investors and tourists. "The state will remain steadfast", Prime Minister Youssef Chahed said in a video broadcast by local radio.

But the authorities have failed to resolve the issues of poverty and unemployment. "So people are also anxious about the orientation of society".

The protests began peacefully last week, but escalated on Monday evening. Groups of young people, some masked, threw rocks at a police station and were met by volleys of tear gas, and had running scuffles through nearby streets, witnesses said.

Med Dhia Hammami, a political analyst, told Al Jazeera on Wednesday that he expects more protests leading to the Sunday anniversary of the Arab Spring uprisings, also known in Tunisia as the Jasmine Revolution.

The protests draw on anger over price and tax increases included in this year's budget that took effect on 1 January. One protester was killed on Monday after inhaling tear gas and subsequently suffering severe breathing problems.

The tumultuous events in the Middle East and North Africa are joined by growing signs of class conflict internationally, including strikes by pharmaceutical and municipal workers in Israel, the wildcat action by Ford workers in Romania, strikes by metalworkers in Germany, actions by rail workers in the United Kingdom and confrontations between French workers in auto and other industries and the government of Emmanuel Macron.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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