In the square of “Martyr Mohamed Bouazizi”, the launcher of the revolution in the Sidi Bouzid Governorate (center), his sign and his car are still in the middle of the square, witnesses to the spark he launched on December 17, 2010, which went beyond the borders of Tunisia to write a new page in the history of the Arab world.
On this day 10 years ago, Bouazizi burned himself in front of the governorate headquarters in protest against his prohibition by the local authorities from working as a street vendor of vegetables, so his suicide triggered protests across the country and ended with the overthrow of the regime of former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on January 14, 2011 .
Today, Sidi Bouzid does not appear to be the “spark of the Arab Spring”, and conditions have not changed, so its residents, streets and homes remained unchanged, and its cafes filled with unemployed youth, a fact revealed by official figures regarding the socio-economic conditions of the governorate.
Poverty and unemployment
The poverty rate in Sidi Bouzid was 23.1%, according to a report on the poverty map in Tunisia issued by the National Institute of Statistics in cooperation with the World Bank last September, while the unemployment rate was estimated at 15.4%, according to the latest statistics of the Institute for the year 2016.
A report issued by the Operating and Investment Committee of the Provincial Regional Council revealed that the percentage of job applications on the waiting list increased by 90% during the first half of the current year.
The fire of social movements in Sidi Bouzid, calling for equitable development and employment, did not die down, as it ranked third nationally in the list of governorates most protesting from January 1 to November 30 with 885 protest movements, according to the Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (NGO). Independent rights).
These official figures reflect the feeling of dissatisfaction that afflicts a significant percentage of Sidi Bouzid’s youth, who went out and opened their throats one day with the slogan “Occupy freedom of national dignity.”
The blogger and photographer Farouk Al-Sammari (37 years old) told Al-Jazeera Net that Sidi Bouzid’s condition worsened 10 years after the revolution, and that only freedom was achieved for them, “which today is under threat again.”
And he stresses that the high rates of unemployment and poverty in the governorate are evidence of the great grievances that the city is facing, as if Sidi Bouzid “revolted against itself,” as he put it.
As for Samari, the problem is not in the resources but in the youth’s lack of power to implement decisions and achieve the goals of the revolution, blaming what he described as the corrupt capitalism of Sidi Bouzid, responsible for retreating conservatism at all levels.
However, the feeling of anger did not prevent Farouk from continuing to dream about achieving what was revolted for him and the youth of his governorate and insisting not to surrender.
This young man, Marwan Gharbi (36 years old) – a worker at the expense of the circumstantial barn 10 years ago – says, “is divided between those who died during the events of the revolution, or committed suicide, and between those who rode death boats and immigrated in an irregular manner, and between youth absent intellectually or through drugs. He lost the desire to think and love the country because he had not got anything for 10 years. “
In his statement to Al-Jazeera Net, Gharbi denies that they have any political or partisan orientation, and confirms that their only goal is to change the situation of Sidi Bouzid for the better and to prove that they are a force for change, and not “thugs protesting in the dark and attacking the security headquarters as the authority considers them.”
He recalled the stalled projects that remained on paper, including the major production market project that has been inactive since 2012 and the university hospital project, as well as the very poor infrastructure that alienates investors.
In turn, Marwan believes that “the corruption lobbies and business leaders that monopolize the scene and investment in Sidi Bouzid are the ones that hindered the implementation of projects there.”
He affirms that the hope for change will not be ceased and that the belief is still firm that the revolution will be completed despite the “fragmentation” that curses Sidi Bouzid and the revolution, which is the first to benefit from it.
The punishment of Sidi Bouzid
For his part, blogger Hani Ali (30 years old) – who has obtained a basic degree in English and is unemployed – summarizes the problems of Sidi Bouzid in the bureaucracy controlling the administrations that hinders young people in starting their small projects.
He considers that Sidi Bouzid “has been punished since independence through the failed developmental pattern that characterizes the coastal regions at the expense of the interior,” noting that “the group that fights the revolution most today is the group that most lives from it and reaps its fruits from politicians and businessmen.”
And he added, in his speech to Al-Jazeera Net, “We will fight for the revolution until the last breath, and a fool who thinks that it can be defeated even if its goals are not achieved today will be achieved with future generations.”
It is noteworthy that the President of the Republic, Qais Saeed, declared during his commemoration of the ninth anniversary of the revolution last year in Sidi Bouzid, the date of December 17 of each year as a national holiday for the Tunisian revolution, as it was not so before Said’s decision.