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Tunisia's Revolution

As the people of Tunisia attempt to restore democracy in their country, this guide will provide a starting point for understanding the country's history and recent events.

Subject Guide

Debra Thomson

This guide is no longer being updated, and is being retained for historical purposes.

Mohammed Bouazizi's act that started a revolution

On December 17, 2010,   26-year-old Mohammed Bouazizi, the sole support of a family of 8, was selling vegetables from his homemade cart when a policewoman confiscated his cart, fined him, and then slapped, spat on, and cursed at him.  When Bouazizi tried to complain to his local officials, they refused to see him. An hour later, Bouazizi retuned to the municipal building, poured gasoline over himself and set himself on fire.  He died several days later, and the public outrage over his ordeal, brought on by frustration over economic conditions, corruption, poor living conditions, food inflation, the suppression of free speech, sparked a revolution that by January 14, 2011 had toppled the 23-year government of Tunisia's dictator , President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali.

The Role of Social Media in the Tunisian Revolution

The protests that took place in the streets of Tunisia in December, 2010 and January 2011 were fueled in part by social media.  For years, the government had attempted to control news organizations,  so residents turned to cell phones and social media sites to keep one another, and the world, informed about what was taking place in their country.

"Tunisia's Revolution was Twitterized" by Firas Al-Altrachi in the Huffington Post

"Tunisia Protests: The Facebook Revolution" by Mike Giglio in the Daily Beast

Wadah Khanfar: "A historic moment in the Arab world" a TED talk.

Videos shared through social media

The videos provided in this playlist are graphic and disturbing, but they were posted on social media sites such as YouTube by people witnessing these events firsthand.  While the government attempted to shut off access to news of these events, citizens were able to keep information flowing by recording it on cell phones and cameras and uploading the videos to external sites. 

More video from the Tunisian Revolution

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