Tunisian youth protest lack of jobs, police brutality

By Janet Post
February 8, 2021

“The people want the fall of the regime!” chanted hundreds of demonstrators at an anti-government protest in Tunis, the capital of Tunisia, Jan. 23. Discontent over massive unemployment, rising inflation, lack of social services and police brutality have led to protests for over a week across the country, mostly of young people.

The actions began Jan. 14, on the 10th anniversary of the uprising that overthrew the hated capitalist regime of former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

The youth and other working people are being crushed under brutal economic conditions in the country. Unemployment is officially at 18%, and 36% for youth. “Employment is a right, not a favor,” read placards at the protests.

“People are hungry,” Yassine, a shopworker in Ettadhamen, told the Guardian. “I won’t lie about it, they want another revolution.”

A slogan of the 2011 revolution — “Employment, freedom, dignity” — is chanted at the rallies today. “The only government we know is the police car coming to arrest people,” Mohammed, an unemployed youth, told the Arab Weekly. Some 1,000 people, most between the ages of 15 and 25, have been arrested at protests over the past week.

Mothers of some of those detained rallied Jan. 20 in Tunis. “The policeman shoved the door of my building and arrested my son,” said garment worker Meriem Ben Salem.