On his website http://bouguerra.org, Bassem Bouguerra describes himself as a “Revolutionary by nature and a Software Engineer by accident.” The 30 year-old Tunisian blogger works as a Software Architect at Yahoo and currently lives in San Francisco, where he is an active member of the Tunisian Bay Area community.
Bougerra’s journey into the blogosphere began in 2001, when he dropped out of Tunisia’s Académie Militaire only months before becoming a military officer. Although he spoke no English, he decided to move to America to live in southern California with his aunt. Once in America, Bougerra studied software programming at a local college and worked part-time at a restaurant, a gas station, and a grocery store. Upon graduation, he started working for an advertising agency and in 2007 began his work for Yahoo.
Shortly after he began his work at Yahoo, Bouguerra cooperated with his mother — still based in Tunisia — to launch a blog, on which the two commented and criticized political and social conditions in Tunisia. It was not long, however, before the blog was censored and shut down.
Bougerra returned to Tunisia for a short visit in December of 2010, leaving shortly before the oppressive Ben Ali was ousted from power. In the U.S., Bassem remained active, organizing protests and publishing on his new blog. He could not stay away from Tunisia for long, however, and returned in March of 2011.
On May 6, 2011 while observing a protest, Bougerra pulled out his cell phone to film Tunisian police beating a journalist. Officers who witnessed Bougerra filming them interrogated and beat him in the back of a van. It was then that Bassem realized, “We didn’t have a revolution.” According to Bouguerra, after the revolution, the leaders of Tunisia had changed, but the system itself had not. In an interview with the New York Times, Bassem commented, “Tunisia can go in so many ways, and it’s actually the world’s responsibility to make our revolution succeed — if they really believe in democracy, they really believe in equality, they really believe in freedom.”
Bassem is currently unsure of what the future has in store for him. Although he is on leave from Yahoo, the organization expects him to return to work eventually. He is conflicted, however, because he also wishes to return to Tunisia to help rebuild his country.