Protests spread in Tunisia after journalist sets himself on fire

Tunisian policemen fire teargas towards protesters during a demonstration in the central Tunisian city of Kasserine.
Tunisian policemen fire teargas towards protesters during a demonstration in the central Tunisian city of Kasserine. AFP/Hatem Salhi

Protests are spreading throughout Tunisia following the death of journalist Abdel Razaq Zorgui who set himself on fire in the central city of Kasserine.


The 32 year-old cameraman and photographer posted a video on his Facebook page before his self-immolation.

In the video, he voices his despair and calls for revolt. Zorgui also expresses his frustration at unemployment and the unfulfilled promises of Tunisia's 2010 Arab Spring revolution.

"For the sons of Kasserine who have no means of subsistence, today I start a revolution. I am going to set myself on fire," Zorgui says in the video.

The journalist died on Monday and protests in Kasserine erupted soon afterwards leading to clashes with security forces.

The unrest has reached other towns, such as Sidi Bouzid, Menzel Bouzayane and Maknassy as well as the poorer areas of the capital Tunis.

In 2010, a street vendor in Sidi Bouzid set himself on fire as a protest against police harassment. The gesture launched the Arab Spring uprising that led to the overthrow of long-time president Zine el Abidine Ben Ali.

Status quo

According to the Tunisian blogger/activist Lina Ben Mhenni, nothing has changed in the last eight years.

"In 2010/2011, when people took to the streets, they were asking for employment, freedom and dignity but there has been no change," she said.

"Kasserine and Sidi Bouzid are marginalised areas. People in those areas are forgotten by the system and by the government. The infrastructure is bad and we cannot see the successive governments trying to change things. We can see despair in the whole country."

Ben Mhenni says she believes that widespread corruption is the reason for all the problems plaguing Tunisia.

"After the departure of Ben Ali, politicians who had power and who have power did not show any political will to change the situation. We are using the same strategies and policies the old regime used."

Despite freedom of expression in Tunisia, Ben Mhenni says that journalists in the regions of Sidi Bouzid and Kasserine are working under strenuous conditions.

"They are not protected legally. They earn low wages. They are working without contracts," she added. "This is really a shame for Tunisia after the revolution."

Follow Lina Ben Mhenni on Twitter @benmhennilina

Follow Zeenat Hansrod on Twitter @zxnt


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