Occupy Wall Street Comes to Tunisia - Tunisia Live Occupy Wall Street Comes to Tunisia - Tunisia Live
Occupy Wall Street Comes to Tunisia


Occupy Wall Street Comes to Tunisia

Musicians at Tunisia's Occupy the World protest

Hundreds of protesters occupied the Place des Droits de l’Homme in downtown Tunis today as part of the call to use the date of 11/11/11 to spread the anti-capitalist Occupy Wall Street protests across the world.

Around 200 people gathered in the square, nearly all of them young, but from varied backgrounds: artists, students, activists, some religious and some not, and coming from all parts of the country. What brought them together was an opposition to what they called global imperialism and capitalism. Protesters held banners with slogans like No More Capitalism and Artistic Revolution against Capitalism,” sang freedom songs, and played music with homemade instruments.

Many leftist groups and political parties had a strong presence at the scene, but several of the protesters described themselves as independents.

Houssam Hamdi, a young man from Gafsa in the southwest of Tunisia, was one such independent. Wearing a T-shirt that read Occupying Tunis and No More Capitalism,” he described his reasons for attending the demonstration. Imperialism is already destroying itself,” he said, adding that the protest was just a way to push a little bit further that destruction.

The communist sickle and hammer and other leftist political signs were present in abundance, but a young woman who identified herself as Affef chose different signs: she wore both a traditional version of the hijab headscarf and a Tunisian flag around her neck. She was there because, as she said, as a Muslim it's an obligation to protest against imperialism. She went on to say, Arab people are the first victims of capitalism.”

Ayoub Amara of The Union for Communist Youth (a branch of one of Tunisia’s communist parties) saw the activities of his group as a continuation of Tunisia’s democracy movement. He said, The party has never left the street, before and after the January 14th. He explained that for his party, demonstrating was the only way to reach its goals.

Speeches were giving by representatives of the Tunisian Worker’s Communist Party and other leftist parties promoting socialism as the solution to the current economic situation in Tunisia and in the world at large.

The call for “Occupy the World” movement to take place on 11/11/11 came from the United States, where Wall Street occupiers have been protesting for months against economic inequality in that country. In  Tunisia the message of solidarity with workers was present, but the protest had a more post-colonial angle, with protesters shouting slogans like no more imperialism.

Like in certain OWS protests in the US, the demonstration was marked by a moment of violent confrontation between police and protesters. According to Houssam Hamdi, the violence was started by the protesters, but the police response was out of proportion to the provocation. This moment passed without major incident and the protests ended peacefully.



Myriam is a communication consultant for the World Bank working as part of the Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI) team in Marseille, France. Since Joining she has been working on reinforcing the communication strategy of the CMI. She has over five years of experience in the field of media and communication having worked as a journalist with both local and international organizations in Tunisia and abroad.

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  • Mondher Smida

    This a good report on the protest. I would have like to see a root cause analysis done on the problem: since 1/14/01, the economic situation has worsened. Now that the euphoria behind the election is over, people are asking: when are we going to see some real economic changes? What about those 700,000 unemployed?

    “Those who don’t listen can’t hear.” (Author unknown) So hear the people: they’ll continue to take it to the street if the situation doesn’t improve. What is the West doing to help? France is warning Tunisia not to cross a “red line” and the U.S. is preparing to send in the Peace Corps. Are these jokes?

    • Kouichi Shirayanagi

      Mondher, in May Tunisia Live reported that the World Bank and African Development Bank (with Western Government backing) has pledged $1 billion in loans for the new Tunisia. We also recently reported that the Jasmine Plan is supposed to raise $2.5 billion through privatization and that funding will be used to match foreign direct investment to sponsor jobs created by new ventures.

      If you have some other creative ideas in mind, given all the current budget constraints in western capitals now please by all means submit us an opinion piece!

  • Mondher Smida

    I appreciate the reminders, Kouichi. I’ll even add to that: the G-20 has also pledged some $20B for Tunisia and Egypt though the Deauville partnership. What does it really means? Nothing. How many new jobs have been created since 1/14? Zero.

    Let’s be clear: neither the U.S. nor the E.U. are required to lend a hand and no-one should ever fault them for not helping. I hope we agree on this.

    I’ll restate my point: the situation has worsened in Tunisia and the people will not sit through another 9 months of rethoric. I expected more from our free press. I expected that journalists paint a realistic picture of the economic situation and pressures the government to take concrete, measurable actions TODAY.

    Since, you asked for it, I’ll present a plan for Tunisia. Give me about 2 weeks to put it together. I WILL expect to read your feedback :-)

    • Kouichi Shirayanagi


      You present a plan and we will publish it! We are always looking for people with great ideas.

      I don’t know if the situation has worsened in Tunisia or not I certainly have not seen many new development projects.

      If you have not noticed from my articles the press here is still not totally free. You have vast regions where there is no newspaper, few radio stations and there is no such thing as a local news channel. It is a daily struggle we deal with at Tunisia Live because the Tunisian press is certainly still in the infancy phase.

      A lot of what I deal with as editorial staff is ask myself, “Is this a bunch of non-sense and rumor or a story that is translatable?” More often than not it is the former rather than the later.

      It will take a long time to change attitudes here. Nine months is too short a time.

      • Mondher Smida


        You’ll have my “plan” by Dec. 1st and I guarantee you, it will be BIG. I’ll publish it under my account at Tunisia Live, as I did in the past.

        Tunisia Live are doing a great job; there is no doubt. All I’m saying is: “keep them honest.”

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