The government of Tunisia said that roughly twenty people have died thus far as a result of rioting. The unions and eye witness accounts have doubled that number. The question is this: What’s fueling the riots?
The reports began surfacing earlier this week about the role that the Arabic Facebook pages played in the current rioting in Tunisia. I thought it was ironic that social networking was being blamed much like the Arizona shooting has been blamed on the lack of gun control. I think it is important to note that people may be influenced by outside factors but they have a free will to act or not. What is truth is that the youth of Tunisia are outraged and venting frustration over unemployment and despair.
Zine El Abidine Ben Ali is the reigning authoritarian president of the Republic of Tunisia and has been in office since 1987. The government imposes restrictions on freedom of association and speech and does not allow a free press. People being the ingenious souls that we are will always find a way to circumvent the restrictions and thus, enter the Facebook fury that incited hundreds to show up and begin hurling stones at buildings in a downtown market.
According to the United States Department of State there is a population of 10,486,339 with 99% of the population being Muslim. The State Department website also states,
“The United States has very good relations with Tunisia, which date back more than 200 years. The United States has maintained official representation in Tunis almost continuously since 1795, and the American Friendship Treaty with Tunisia was signed in 1799.”
The call to action on the Arabic Facebook pages was a direct hit against the reigning government. What transpired has been deadly for the protestors as rioting that began in early December has been escalating ever since and the protestors and an innocent journalist caught in the crossfires are the only ones dying at the moment.
What will come next for the country of Tunisia and will the United States assist with control in the rioting? Not so fast, said Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Yahoo News reported Clinton stated, “We are not taking sides and hoping for a peaceful resolution.”
One can only hope that anything can ever be accomplished peacefully.