It has been really disheartening to watch every diary on the important story of Tunisia get buried without much discussion. Why? I remember how Iran was always on the rec list. Why the bias? Is it because the Neo-cons don't want to go to war with Tunisia. I have no idea. But I assume it is because people think it is not important somehow.
Juan Cole on why this story is ignored:
Note that since the Tunisian crisis has to do with labor unions, unemployment, class anxieties, and a student youth movement rather than with Islam; and since the Tunisian government is counted as a firm US ally, the American mass media is largely ignoring this story
I watched the police raid this store today on 29 street in New York for selling fake Prada bags. The guys selling it probably had no other way of making a living, maybe university educated. Maybe not. But the point is they are working class guys trying to make a living in recession. And why is it illegal for them to make money from some stupid brand name that is way overpriced? Because the system is not fair. Just like it is not fair in Tunisia. The guy in Tunisia who set himself on fire was protesting because he was prevented from selling vegetables for lack of a permit. He had a degree. He tried to make money the honest way, and he got a fine and his goods confiscated, just like the guys on 29th street today. So why do people who are supposedly pro working class not able to support the rebellion of working class people in Tunisia?
In addition, the wikileaks story perhaps gave the Tunisians the last push they needed to fight for their rights. Freedom of speech is important to them just just like it is important to us.
The internet is blocked, and censored pages are referred to as pages "not found" – as if they had never existed. Schoolchildren are exchanging proxies and the word becomes cult: "You got a proxy that works?"We all know that Leila has tried to sell a Tunisian island, that she wants to close the American school in Tunis to promote her own school – as I said, stories are circulating. Over the internet and under the desks, we exchange "La régente de Carthage" [a controversial book about the role of Leila Trabelsi and her family in Tunisia]. We love our country and we want things to change, but there is no organised movement: the tribe is willing, but the leader is missing.
The corruption, the bribes – we simply want to leave. We begin to apply to study in France, or Canada. It is cowardice, and we know it. Leaving the country to "the rest of them". We go to France and forget, then come back for the holidays. Tunisia? It is the beaches of Sousse and Hammamet, the nightclubs and restaurants. A giant ClubMed.
And then, WikiLeaks reveals what everyone was whispering. And then, a young man immolates himself. And then, 20 Tunisians are killed in one day.
Another article on the role of social media:
A recent instruction on one of the most popular internet forums, Nawaat, read: "We remind all users of Facebook, especially if they are connecting from Tunisia: DO NOT CONNECT from an unsecure page."
Farooq Ferchichi, a 24-year-old software engineer, said he thought the authorities had become overwhelmed by the protests, and had simply become unable to censor everything.
"We did a page called: 'Mr President, the Tunisian peoples' souls are burning,' he said by e-mail.
"It was in the beginning of the events, it was censored. People did a second page : 'Mr President, the Tunisian peoples' souls are burning 2'. After some hours many thousands joined, and it was censored. Activists did the same five times, until the government gave up."
Some videos and posts are being uploaded outside Tunisia, but according to Lucie Morillon, head of new media at Reporters Without Borders, "the level of internet activity within Tunisia is still very strong".
She thinks the impact of social media use may be greater than during protests in Iran in 2009, where the significance of what was dubbed the "Twitter revolution" was later questioned.
And don't you wish we could be a little like them? That we could fight the bank bailout, the lack of healthcare, lack of educational opportunities and affordable housing? When we show our solidarity for people who are fighting for their freedom, we promote peace around the world. And please, all the comments about Tunisians should be happy with their lack of freedom; would you say that about Iranians?
The latest on the Guardian this morning:
Thousands of Tunisians took to the streets again today to demand that the president leave office immediately, after Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali said last night he would not seek re-election in 2014.
An estimated 5,000 people gathered outside the interior ministry in the capital, Tunis, to denounce the president, who has ruled for 23 years.
At least 23 people have died in police clashes during a month of protests. Independent estimates put the actual death toll around three times higher.
For additional info, the latest on Twitter:
@SPIEGEL_English: The World from Berlin: 'Tunisia Has Become North Africa's Belarus'... http://tinyurl.com/... #sidibouzid
Please watch live feed of demo in Tunis against Ben Ali http://bit.ly/... #sidibouzid #tunisia
The Tunisian Activist Slim Amamou is now free #sidibouzid #tunisia #Freedom http://wp.me/...
British tourists evacuated from Tunisia - BBC http://t.co/... #sidibouzid
#sidibouzid RT Killing of 8-yr old child cuz she threw a rock at a police officer #sidibouzid OUTRAGEOUS, im crying my country #Tunisia
'm following Help Translate #SidiBouzid curated by @Tom_El_Rumi w/ 3 others http://curated.by/...
#FF All those who fight 4 their independance Freedom against dictators #Tibettruth's site http://bit.ly/... #IranElection #Sidibouzid
Live: Tunisia turmoil from the BBC http://bbc.in/... #opTunisia #sidibouzid
#Tunisie #OpTunisia #sidibouzid RT@wikileaks The First WikiLeaks revolution? http://is.gd/...
Behind #Tunisia Unrest, Rage Over Wealth of Rulers http://nyti.ms/... (Finally a headline w/out "riots") #Sidibouzid
RT @Tharwacolamus: BBC News - #Tunisia's young protesters reject 'empty words' - http://goo.gl/... #sidibouzid
V @octavianasr Tunisians document protest even using Google Latitude from inside prison http://nyti.ms/... #Tunisia #SidiBouzid #FreeSlim
Tonight at kaireddine hospital - Le Kram (Tunis suburbs) [videos] http://post.ly/... #sidibouzid #optunisia
"All they're interested in is grabbing all the power&all the money.Of course we're protesting-wouldn't you?" http://goo.gl/... #sidibouzid
@ifikra: How to mirror important videos from/for #Tunisia spread the word ! #sidibouzid http://is.gd/... #netfreedom #censorship
New Tunisia Update: A: Australian students trapped in Tunisia among the vio... http://liveword.ca/... #sidibouzid #jasminrevolt #optunisia