The wave of protests and strikes has swept Tunisia and Algeria in the recent weeks are the biggest for a generation. Joseph Daher looks at the background.
Protesters in Tunisia
The mobilization and the protests in Tunisia over high unemployment and cost of living, in which as many as 20 have been killed since Saturday, have been ongoing since the 17th of December 2010. Protests and social unrest from the people, which started in the city of Sidi Bouzi, have now spread all over the regions of the country.
President Ben Ali’s promise on Television yesterday night to create 300 000 jobs in the next two years will not appease the feeling of anger among the Tunisian population. Demonstrations are organized on almost a daily basis in each city, as well as in rural areas.
Universities and high schools have now been shut by the government until further notice particularly following demonstrations organized by university students in the streets of Tunis and elsewhere the past few days.
The union of lawyers has condemned the violence of the police and went on strike on the 6th of January in support of the protesters, while bloggers and internet users’ critical of the Tunisian regime have been arrested. At a public rally held Saturday in Tunis, the General Union of Tunisian Workers (UGTT) has also supported the claims of the people demonstrating as “legitimate”.
Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter have been used widely by thousands of Tunisians in order to call for demonstrations or to spread information such as videos and images of the brutality of the police against the demonstrators, while the national flag covered with blood is becoming the main profile picture on facebook.