One young Tunisian asks what’s really changed since revolution

by Akrem Kaabi
Kef, Tunisia - Since the Jasmine Revolution in 2011 and the resignation of President Ben Ali the changes in Tunisia have become clear: the political sphere is now open to everyone and there is now an active civil society. But there have also been problems, including violence during various protests, which show that there is still a great deal of work that remains to be done.

I am a young Tunisian student who actively participated in the revolution. And in the face of the upheaval of post-revolutionary Tunisia, I have to ask myself: what has really changed?

The security situation is unstable, the economy is not in the best shape, and the educational system has not been reformed.

But the future remains to be built, and it’s up to us, as young people, to do it. There are clear signs of hope.

There have been considerable changes when it comes to freedom: freedom of speech and freedom of expression, including the freedom to criticise the government, have become a reality.

However, there are also significant problems: certain extremist movements will only accept their own ideology and do not acknowledge others’ right to freedom of expression. For example, last June during a Tunisian art fair, "Printemps des arts", which featured work from several local galleries and Tunisian artists, there were violent protests against the exhibition.

Politicians and political parties can correct such deviations away from freedom. Although they have their own political ideologies, they should openly acknowledge the validity of other ideologies and viewpoints in their speeches. This is where true democracy begins.

Similarly, civil society must play its own role in encouraging dialogue and coexistence. It needs to find commonalities between the different parties and remind them of their common ground – Tunisia.

Civil society itself is what has really changed in Tunisia. It is becoming more and more active, even in a political and socio-economic environment that remains unstable.

Associations are springing up everywhere and enriching the civic landscape. There are many examples, from public festivals to conferences to charities. Most recently, on 3 September, an organisation called Mouwatana & Tawassol (Citizenship & Communication), whose objective is fostering awareness about citizenship and civic service, launched an interactive portal designed to help civil society work more closely with the Constituent Assembly, around the time that its current session began.

The association explained in a press release that this portal was created “to follow the Constituent Assembly proceedings and civil society debates and activities focused on the new constitution, in order to serve as an interactive portal between the Assembly, civil society and public opinion.”

It is civil society that constitutes the revolution’s greatest advance and its presence is one of the most secure gains in the post-revolutionary period. It is no longer possible for Tunisia to lack an active civil society.

Tunisia needs the contribution of all sectors, whatever their ideology. To achieve a true democracy, we must find common ground among all Tunisians - a platform that offers everyone the chance to contribute to the development of the country but at the same time respects the beliefs and ideas of all.


* Akrem Kaabi is a Tunisian student. This article was written for a series on voices of Tunisian youth after the revolution for the Common Ground News Service (CGNews).

Source: Common Ground News Service (CGNews), 2 October 2012,
Copyright permission is granted for publication.
Women of Tunisia: Let your voices be heard!

The women of Tunisia have a decisive role to play in shaping Tunisia's future. Fatma Ben Saïdane reminds women of the power of their vote and the importance of civic engagement.
"CGNews is the most successful service I know of when it comes to placing timely, important and thought-provoking opinion-pieces that illuminate intra-Muslim and so-called 'Muslim-Western' debates in important print media outlets. The ability to do so consistently and over as broad an array of media outlets across geographical, linguistic, and ideological editorial barriers is what makes CGNews stand out. Keep the articles coming."

- Shamil Idriss, Former Acting Director of the Secretariat for the UN Alliance of Civilizations

It takes 200+ hours a week to produce CGNews. We rely on readers like you to make it happen. If you find our stories informative or inspiring, help us share these underreported perspectives with audiences around the world.



Or, support us with a one-time donation.

Theatre opens up new worlds in Tunisia
Tunisian youth work to end violence against women
The voices of Tunisia’s youth are more relevant than ever
Tunisian youth organising to fight drug abuse
# of hours per week to create one edition
# of editors in 6 countries around the world
# of subscribers
Average # of reprints per article
# of media outlets that have reprinted our articles
# of republished articles since inception
# of languages CG articles are distributed in
# of writers since inception


Other articles in this series

Theatre opens up new worlds in Tunisia by Amina Benkhlifa
Tunisian youth work to end violence against women by Meriem Marufi
The voices of Tunisia’s youth are more relevant than ever by Nour Awaiss
Tunisian youth organising to fight drug abuse by Jihed Fradi