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Tunisian President Ben Ali ceded power on 14th January, following the escalation of protests and the declaration of a state of emergency.
For the past four weeks life in Tunisia has been marked out by violence: more protest suicides, demonstrators killed by police, shots fired into crowds.
By 13th January the Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights tallied a death count of 66 since the protests began in earnest -13 in the past two days alone- compared to the Official Government total of 23.
Ali has fled with his family to Saudi Arabia having allegedly been refused entry to France.
Since his departure, violent gangs have begun to emerge, setting fires and looting.
Oujdi El Hamid, a French-Tunisian, said: “For the past three nights my father and brothers have been standing guard outside the family home with shovels, wearing white armbands to distinguish them as residents of the neighbourhood.” His father is seventy-five.
Others share similar stories. Khalil Ladjimi said that a “scorched earth policy” was reportedly issued to militia forces upon the president’s departure. He described these as orders “to paralyze all the country’s services: hospitals, stations….[and promote] panic in the Tunisian people”.
The army has moved in, but images seen on the British news stations are those of burning buildings, protesters cowering beneath police batons, women crying over bodies, and holiday-makers flying home to the UK.
It is thought that the outcome of the next few weeks will greatly impact upon the Arabic world as a whole. Already people are speculating about how far the ripple effect of the Tunisian unrest will reach. Oussama Mezoui, an Arabic student studying Law at Somerville College, emphasised the global effect of the Tunisian uprising, speaking of a “real excitement amongst Arabs and Muslims internationally because the Jasmine Revolution of Tunisia has reignited their spirits and has given them real hope. It has proved to them that positive change is possible.”
Another speculation is whether Egypt will be next to follow suit, with messages popping up on social networks Twitter and Facebook. Blogger Emad Mekay posted that “the military-backed regime of 82-year-old President Hosni Mubarak is far more formidable, and more subtle, than the brutal regime of Ben Ali that alienated its own people and failed to handle the unrest when it first erupted.”
The connections also reach into the Western World, both through its growing Islamic population, and the recent emergence of Wikileaks cables revealing the propping up of the Tunisian dictatorship by American financing.
The unrest began on 17th December 2009 when an unemployed graduate set himself alight. Tunisian frustrations continued to simmer at the 23-year-old regime.