Tunisia marks first year of Arab Spring

Tunisia marks first year of Arab Spring

Masses of Tunisians marched in peaceful triumph Jan. 14 to mark the one-year anniversary of the revolution that ended the dictatorship of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and sparked uprisings around the Arab world.

Thousands of people flooded into Bourguiba Avenue in the center of Tunis, the same spot where demonstrators massed exactly one year before, forcing autocratic leader Ben Ali to accept that his rule was over and flee the country.

Since that moment, Tunisia has become a model for democratic change in the Middle East and its revolt has reshaped the political landscape of the region. It inspired revolutions in Egypt and Libya, as well as uprisings in Syria and Yemen whose outcome is still in the balance.

Tunisia’s uprising began on Dec. 17, 2010, when a desperate fruit vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself on fire, unleashing pent-up anger and frustration among his compatriots, who staged protests that spread nationwide. Within a month, longtime president Ben Ali was forced out of power, and he fled to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 14, 2011.

Turkish Deputy PM met with officials

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay and leading Arab dignitaries joined Tunisia’s leaders for anniversary ceremonies. Atalay said Tunisia had become a source of inspiration for the countries in its region with Jan. 14 revolution.

“The revolution showed that nothing could prevent the will of people asking for freedom, reform and social justice,” said Atalay.

From the beginning, Turkey supported Tunisians in their fight for freedom, justice and democracy, Atalay said, adding that Turkey wanted to further develop its relations and cooperation with Tunisia.
Atalay also met with Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki, Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali and the leader of the Ennahda Party, Rached Ghannouchi. Jebali thanked the Turkish government for its support to the newly formed government of Tunisia.

Jebali said they wanted to learn from the experience and knowledge of Turkey and added that they also wanted to strengthen cooperation with Turkey in every area.

Atalay, meanwhile, said the Turkish government was ready to support Tunisia.

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who faced down protests in his own country last year; the head of Libya’s interim government, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, who helped lead opposition to Col. Moammar Gadhafi; and the emir of Qatar also attended the ceremony.

Compiled from AP, Reuters and AA stories by the Daily News staff.