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Reflections on the Tunisian Revolution by Anissa Meddeb

Ten years since the Tunisian Revolution that led to the ousting of longtime ruler Ben Ali in January 2011, Tunisian designer and entrepreneur Anissa Meddeb reflects on the changes that have happened since that day, and the challenges for the next decade.

The Tunisian Revolution
By Anissa Meddeb
January 6, 2021

I was seventeen when the Revolution and the Arab Spring happened. It was my first year living in the United States, and I was staying with a host family in Tampa, Florida. This was the first year that I was far away from my family and my roots. However, I remember following everything on TV, and even more so on Facebook. I remember Skyping with friends and family to discuss the latest events. It was a real utopia, or at least what it seemed to be. I was so proud that our tiny country, Tunisia, started a series of uprisings that spread across much of the Arab world to get rid of corrupt governments and oppressive regimes. I was also so proud that people in the US had finally heard of Tunisia!

Now, a decade has passed since January 14th, 2011. We can definitely assert that the Revolution has provided us with new freedoms, and essentially the freedom of speech. Let me remind you that previously we could not discuss our economy, politics or criticize the president or the government in a public space. We have also achieved our democratic goals with free popular elections and the power to sweep away any incompetent political class. We also gained the freedom of assembly. As a Tunisian designer I am really proud of all these achievements and I truly felt the difference.

After the Revolution the creative field started booming: lots of cultural events started happening, art galleries and concept stores opened, designers started feeling more entrepreneurial, lots of incubator programs started, independent publications were launched. All of these accomplishments represented a huge step forward. However, what I am aware of is what hasn’t improved yet – forming a stable government and boosting the economy. Radical changes led by a revolution take time to happen. Those will be the challenges of the next decade.

Read Tunisian social entrepreneur Leila Ben Gacem’s reflections on the Revolution >

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