A Revolution of Equals


In the days immediately following the toppling of President Zine El Abedine Ben Ali on 14 January, Tunis was a city exhilarated by the success of the revolution. Energized protestors kept up pressure on the newly formed interim government. A sit-in outside government offices in the Kasbah led to the ousting of the few remaining politicians associated with the old regime. Trade unions, now emboldened, organized strikes to demand better salaries and working conditions. On Habib Bourguiba Avenue, the Tunisian equivalent of the Champs-Elysées, strangers spontaneously gathered to discuss politics, economics and social issues. Under the tree-lined central promenade, near the sweet-smelling popcorn stalls or sitting at the Paris-style cafés, people from all walks of life were conversing. As I wandered around talking to them, it was clear that all were proud of their achievement and felt they had won back their dignity. They were thrilled to speak freely, and it was truly exciting to see everyone exercise freedom of speech as if it were a newly discovered skill that needed testing and practice. It was, put simply, democracy in action.

more from Lana Asfour at Granta here.