Carthage, its destruction and the consequences
Originally the area of what is now Tunisia was settled by the Berbers.
In the north of the country lies the capital of Tunisia, which is called Tunis. It is very close to a famous ancient city, namely Carthage. Carthage was once the capital of the Phoenicians. You also sometimes hear the term “Punic” or “Carthaginian”. The Phoenicians probably founded the city in 814 BC. BC and established a world empire based primarily on trade.
But then the Romans came and conquered Carthage in 146 BC. Unfortunately, the Romans destroyed Carthage so badly that one could not learn so much about this ancient and very important culture. And what the Romans said about the Carthaginians wasn’t always very nice. After all, they were the conquerors and despised the defeated Carthaginians.
The Romans stayed in North Africa for quite a while. In 439 AD the area became part of the Vandal Empire until the Arabs came to power there around the end of the 7th century AD. So the country belonged to the sphere of influence of Islam.
In the Middle Ages Tunisia was an important trading center in the region and from 1574 it became part of the Ottoman Empire.
Tunisia as part of the French colonial empire
At the end of the 19th century, the French came to Tunisia and made it a French colony. Tunisia lost its independence and had to align itself with France. If you travel to Tunisia, you will quickly see how many people speak not only Arabic but also French. In addition to English, French is an important foreign language in schools. You can find more information about the Tunisian school system at Everyday & Children.
Modernity – between progress and dictatorship
In 1956 Tunisia gained independence from France. From 1957 it was an independent republic with a president named Habib Bourgiba. Its policy was also directed against the Islamists. In general, Tunisia has always been a model for progress within the Arab world. In Tunisia, for example, the right to vote for women was introduced as the first Arab country. The strict legal system of Sharia was also abolished in 1959.
In 1987, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali ousted President Bourgiba. The new president also wanted to further modernize the country, fight poverty and stand up for women’s rights. He also expanded schools and promoted education in the country. But that was only one side, because Ben Ali ruled like a dictator, suppressing freedom of expression and democratic aspirations in the country. When things got worse and worse for many people, there was a revolution and in the end he was deposed.
Protest – why?
According to remzfamily, many Tunisians were dissatisfied with their government because it did not respect the wishes of the population and was also bribed. Since 1987 the dictator Ben Ali has been able to rule as he pleased, but discontent grew. Young people could not find work and prices kept rising, so that many Tunisians lived in poverty. They wanted freedom, justice and democracy and that is exactly what they demanded at the demonstrations and deposed their president. Other Arab states soon followed suit. It is also said that the “Arab Spring”, the democracy movement in the Arab world, began in Tunisia.
The Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia
On December 17, 2010, the greengrocer Mohamed Bouazizi burned himself. He was previously harassed and – it is said – badly treated by the authorities. This self-immolation was the famous spark that started the fire and riots followed all over Tunisia.
Many Tunisians did not agree with their government. The Tunisian head of state Ben Ali ruled the country dictatorially and many protests were directed against him and his government and his party. People took to the streets. The modern media, which informed everyone where a protest was taking place, became important. News could be spread very quickly, not just in Tunisia, but in the entire Arab world. In January 2011, there were also violent uprisings against the people who were in government in other countries such as Algeria and Egypt.
The unrest spread from individual uprisings to the revolution. The dictator Ben Ali fled the country. He had ruled the country with a strict hand for 23 years. The way for new elections was cleared.
The Tunisians themselves did not call their revolution the jasmine revolution. They mostly referred to it as the “Tunisian Revolution”. Foreign countries and especially the foreign media “baptized” the uprising like this.
Incidentally, the Jasmine Revolution was also called the 1987 Revolution, when Ben Ali deposed President Bourgiba. So the name is to be understood as an allusion and one made fun of the disempowered dictator.