Seven years after the Tunisian “revolution”, the residents of Sidi Bouzid where the uprising started remains bitter and increasingly frustrated with the situation in the country.
Asharq Al-Awsat toured the city, whose residents complain of lingering poverty, unemployment and government neglect.
The slogans that demanded change in the country seven years ago are still the same.
Slogans demanding job opportunities can still be witnessed on walls, as if none of the past seven years have passed.
The locals pass their days in a mundane routine and the city appears lifeless were it not for a few state institutions, such as the provincial headquarters where Mohammed Bouazizi immolated himself on December 17, 2010 in protest against the difficult living conditions, sparking the country’s revolt.
The residents fear a re-occurrence of such an act of protest, saying that the conditions that forced him to self-immolate are the same.
Political activist Atieh al-Athmouny told Asharq Al-Awsat: “We were very optimistic and we had high expectations from the revolution.”
He then shakes his head in bitterness and said: “We have however been disappointed.”
He went into a diatribe against the politicians, accusing them of consolidating their power at the expense of the people and their sacrifices.
“All efforts that were aimed at achieving development failed and we do not know what the future looks like,” he added.
Other locals expressed disappointment that the revolution did not fulfill the demands of the people.
“The revolt was waged by the poor, but it only deepened their pain,” they lamented.
The square where Bouazizi self-immolated is busy with youths looking for any random job that would stave off poverty.
Some chose to sell vegetables, others opted to sell smuggled clothes. They too expressed a concern that a new revolt may erupt at any moment, saying that the conditions that led Bouazizi to self-immolate not only still stand, but they may have even become worse.
Abdulrahman al-Brahimi, a retired teacher, said: “Several institutions closed their doors after the revolution. Several state-backed agricultural companies were neglected and so the youths became disappointed. They have seen their dreams evaporate before their eyes.”
He noted that all this was accompanied by a rise in consumer goods prices, which only burdened a large part of the Tunisian population, especially the poor.