Monday, 17 January 2011

'Bin Laden and Ben Ali. Tunisia says no thank you!'

A big thanks to Naima Bouteldja for her report and photos of the  Tunisian solidarity demo held in Paris on Saturday.

"About 10000 people marched through the streets of Paris in a show of support for the "Jasmine Revolution" yesterday.

Demonstrators, in their great majority French of Tunisian and Arab descent, assembled at Place de la République, customising the statue of Marianne with Tunisian flags.

Makeshift signs and slogans outnumbered the official flags and placards of the various political groupings the most popular being “Ben Ali Assassin” and "Ben Ali, clear off". One slogan also read “Bin Laden and Ben Ali. Tunisia says no thank you!”

Alongside the Tunisian national anthem, songs of independence and religious recitations filled the air. The atmosphere was of great celebration and joy.

Among the demonstrators were families and people of all ages glad to see the back of Ben Ali. Not only was this a day of rejoicing among many of the Tunisian diaspora, estimated at around 600,000 living in France, but also an opportunity for many in the rest of the North African communities to show their solidarity hoping that the spark in Tunisia catches alight particularly in Algeria and Egypt.

Nobody knows what will happen next. One Tunisian political dissident told me: "we can expect the best as the worst" but for the time being and after all those years of political disillusions and defeats let's just all enjoy the moment."