Thousands of people gathered Thursday in the Tunisian capital of Tunis to commemorate five years since the social uprising that led to the ousting of Western-backed dictator, Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali and inspired a series of social movements known as the “Arab Spring.”
IN DEPTH: Tunisia Uprising Anniversary
People filled the Habib Bourguiba Avenue, which holds a symbolic significance for many Tunisians since it was the epicenter of the mass protests in 2011 which 338 people dead, and another 2,147 injured. Since then, Ben Ali who ruled for decades in pomp and luxury, has been exiled to Saudi Arabia. This year, the march occurred with no incidents unlike previous years in which riot police have clashed with demonstrators.
Local media reports that the revolution’s fifth anniversary raised mixed feelings among many, with some Tunisians feeling intense pride while for others concerned about the continued economic crisis and rising level of violence in the North African country.
The country held elections in 2011 and 2014, adopted a new constitution and last year its National Dialogue Quartet—which comprises a group of four civil society organizations—was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for helping to save the country’s transition to democracy.
But reports have also said that since the initial uprising, thousands of Tunisian nationals have joined the ranks of extremists groups in Libya, Iraq and Syria. Tunisia’s revolution led to other revolutions in 2011 that ousted other leaders in Arab states, including Egypt and Libya, which have not seen the same political progress as the tiny North African nation.