Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tunisian Protests, Cont'd

Al-Jazeera reports the latest from Tunisia:
"Demonstrators in Tunisia are continuing their street protests, ignoring a warning by Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, the Tunisian president, that disturbances will be firmly dealt with.

"Protests continued unabated on Wednesday with demonstrators deploring the lack of employment opportunities in the country.

"Lawyers have joined students and youths on the streets of the capital and trade unions are reportedly lending their support to the movement.

"Ben Ali, who named a new youth minister on Wednesday in a limited cabinet reshuffle, warned earlier that protesters would be punished if rioting continued in the country.

"In a speech on state television he blamed a minority of 'extremists and mercenaries' for the nationwide unrest.

"He has also accused 'certain foreign television channels of broadcasting false allegations without verification, based on dramatisation, fermentation and deformation by media hostile to Tunisia.'"

The Washington Post reports that the old youth minister replaced the fired communications minister, suggesting that the reshuffle was targeting that body in ways perhaps linked to Ben Ali's criticism of foreign media. I don't know much about Tunisia, but events there seem similar to the workers' strikes in Egypt in recent years. The difference is that whereas Egypt has a history of labor activism, Tunisia does not, and the latter's public sphere is much more restricted.



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