Tunisian president flees country amid violent protests

by , under All categories, Enrique

Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben, who had ruled his country with an iron fist, is believed to have fled to France on Friday after mounting street violence and protests.  The big question is how far the revolution in Tunisia will go. Is the next head on the block the prime minister, Mohammed Ghannouchi, who declared temporary rule?

Columnist Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times writes:  “(The former president) runs an autocratic, pro-western government, with a young population angered by high unemployment, corruption and police brutality. Rising food prices are also contributing to unrest.”

The Guardian’s Middle East correspondent, Ian Black,  reports:  “Bloody street clashes in Tunis trigger fears of a domino effect that could shake other authoritarian states.”

Tunisians took to the streets and ended President Zine El Abidine Ben’s twenty-year rule. Photo AFP

One of the shocking matters that will surprise many Westerners about these autocratic regimes is that we have been directly involved in supporting them as was the case with the coup that put the Shah of Iran in power in 1953.

The extent of the dilemma that the West faces in this region is stated by Rachman: “American policy has gone backwards and forwards. In the wake of 9/11, the Americans decided that the Saudi autocracy was thoroughly corrupt and was stoking up radicalism in the Middle East. In 2005 Condi Rice, then Secretary of State, made a famous speech in Cairo calling for democratic reforms in the region. But the election of Hamas in Gaza demonstrated to the Americans that Islamists were quite likely to win free elections. The House of Saud and Hosni Mubarak suddenly looked like quite good bets, again.

  1. Enrique

    Corrupt, war-torn and underdeveloped countries are like prison camps. Any sane person with a little self-respect has two choices: change the government or flee to another country as a refugees or immigrant.

  2. Tony Garcia

    Enrique, let me congratulate you for a nice article from a truly said situation. My heart goes with the westerns stock in there.

    I think this phrase summarizes what I have been saying here for 2 and a half years…

    ” But the election of Hamas in Gaza demonstrated to the Americans (end hopefully to Enrique) that Islamists were quite likely to win free elections. ”

    That’s the people we a talking about. That’s the people that you and others think are compatible with our values and laws. That’s the people you think will enrich our culture. But, as usual, you are wrong. Everything is nice a fluffy on a essay or book, but as you has just described yourself, in the real world, thinks are quite different.

    • Enrique

      Tony, my point here is that the West has screwed around for such a long time in the Arab world that all the problems we have today are because of that. It’s going to get worse. Those people have the right to determine their own future and build democratic societies. Believe it or not: those types of societies would be a threat to the West. Read history and see what happened in Iran, for example. Brazil is realizing its full potential because the CIA and OAS (Organization of American Satellites) don’t call the shots in the same way as they did during the cold war.

  3. Tony Garcia

    ” Any sane person with a little self-respect has two choices: change the government or flee to another country as a refugees or immigrant.”

    So, if everyone decide to flee the country who will change it?

    • Enrique

      –So, if everyone decide to flee the country who will change it?

      You should ask you immigrant grandparents that question. As you know, my great grandfather was a refugee that left Italy for Brazil. I respect his example so much that one of my sons is named after him. Please don’t give refugees a dirty name. They are tough people who have the guts (or no choice in many cases) to leave and start life anew.

  4. JusticeDemon

    So is our pet Brazilian rich kid in favour of free elections or against them?

    Come on Toby, make up your mind.

    We know how your family behaved when Goulart was ousted. They’ve still got the brown noses to prove it.

  5. Klay_Immigrant

    ‘Corrupt, war-torn and underdeveloped countries are like prison camps. Any sane person with a little self-respect has two choices: change the government or flee to another country as a refugees or immigrant.’

    This is a very careless statement without much thought having been put into it. If you analyse every country in Africa, they will fall into one of those categories (corrupt, war-torn or under developed). You could even put many countries from South America, Asia and the Middle East into one of those categories as well. With that your answer to this is either ‘change the government’ which can only be done via violence in those countries and may cause civil war as in Ivory Coast for instance now or ‘flee to another country as a refugee or immigrant’.

    Tell me Enrique how would the developed world be able to absorb over 1 billion African refugees/immigrants alone? Your ideas are as usual completely impractical and unrealistic.

    • Enrique

      –Corrupt, war-torn and underdeveloped countries are like prison camps.

      It is a human right for people to find better lives. If you continue to pillage the world, support corrupt regimes and then cry foul why so many are coming here as refugees then you should know. Stop sticking you head in the sand and take a look around. By the way, do you know how many millions of Europeans escaped corrupt, war-torn and underdeveloped Europe to the Americas?

  6. Tony Garcia

    As much as I hate to acknowledge it, Pekka Haavisto is spot on, from HS: “Haavisto said that the best solution for refugees from Somalia would be to help them in camps where they are.”

    • Enrique

      I guess Tony has never been a thousand kilometers near a refugee camp. Did you know that some of those people like Myanmarians have lived for ten to fifteen years before being accepted into Finland as refugees. Oh, that’s right, these are the “welfare shoppers” searching for a better life. One of the problems with the discourse of the far right is that it has got it all wrong and exaggerated matters beyond recognition. In other words they are storms in tea cups that aim to look like real threats.

  7. JusticeDemon

    Newsflash for Tony the Toby.

    Most of the world’s displaced persons are in such camps. That’s something else they don’t teach in private schools for rich kids in Sao Paolo.

    What have YOU done to help them lately?

  8. Tony Garcia

    Enrique, I’ll keep that in mind, but I will only be able to ask him when I meet him in haven. As you know my grandfather died fighting the second war. He fought so today we can have free speech in Europe. Now we can honor not only him but the millions who also dies in that war by give up free speech so Muslims won’t be criticized.

    Comparing Italian immigration with today’s asylum industry is not only ridiculous but also highly offensive. My grandfather wasn’t a refugee, but an immigrant. He went to Brazil few months after my mom was born, he bought a good peace of land in Jundiai to grow vines. Today the family business employs more then 150 people in 3 cities, ad I can guarantee that our restaurants serve the best Italian food outside Italy. And when my dad moved from Spain to Brazil during the 50’s he was already a senior engineer who went there with a impressive job offer.

    My family’s legacy (and probably yours as well), is something a Somali can only dean about.

    • Enrique

      –Comparing Italian immigration with today’s asylum industry is not only ridiculous but also highly offensive.

      Immigration and refugees then and now is basically spurred by the same factors. You forget that the majority of Italians that emigrated to the Americas were illiterate and came from semi-feudal societies.

      Your family and part of my family were privileged in Europe because they had an education. What made them stand out even more was that they had a higher educational background. But for the mass of other immigrants it was a different story. The Americas did offer them an opportunity, which most of them took. People aren’t different. They are social animals that will adapt if given the opportunity.

      Also, you forget to mention Lebanese-Syrians that gave countries like Brazil and Argentina a lot of impetus. They were Muslims and fit in very well into our societies. So the key is opportunity and offer the greatest amount of people the chance to be a part of society. If you exclude right at the onset you are going to get another thing.

  9. Tony Garcia

    First my grandfather didn’t have much of an education, he did have a good amount of money but he was a simple farmer. You just can’t compare 18th century Americas with 21st century Finland. In that time literacy was a luxury today is a minimum. Immigrants in Finland have far more opportunities and are far more protected than our grandparents were in the the Americas. You forget that those who are not making in Finland today are also no making in Sweden, UK and, very importantly, in the US. Somalis are the poorest group in the US today, a fact that you insist in forget.

    You talk about Syrians-Lebanese, well if you remember I did talk about them here before, they are all doing very well in Brazil, however you strategically forgot an important detail about them, go to Sao Paulo today and have a look at them, try to find 1 head-scarf, not 1000 or 100, just 1. Rather than waste their time demanding appeasement, they used it wisely figuring out what to do to fit in. It did pay off.

    The same goes to Japanese, I had many friends who were the second generation and I never had to take my shoos off when going to their home, neither did they. Why? Because they just decided to fit in. And it did pay off.

    You insisting that assimilation doesn’t work is a self-serving denial of history.

    • Enrique

      –Rather than waste their time demanding appeasement, they used it wisely figuring out what to do to fit in. It did pay off.

      Thank you for answering my question. When they were given opportunities they took it. And hey, in Finland women used scarves all the time in the early 20th century. Opportunities and mutual respect works. It’s not a one-way deal.

  10. Tony Garcia

    Since when there was ever a question about that? Of course opportunity is essential, it’s like feed someone without food. Today’s Finland offer plenty of opportunity to immigrants, more than our grandparents had in America. The problem with you is that you’re still living in 30 years ago Finland. Things were bad that time, no doubt, but this time is gone. Stop dwelling in the past, come to the present and look at real problems Finland is facing today: ageing population, expensive entitlements, Muslim terrorists, thousands of bogus asylum seekers. Those are problems of today’s Finland, discrimination against foreigners is something from the past, get over it.

  11. JusticeDemon

    lol@Tony the Toby

    You are obviously more of an expert on Finland than Enrique, who has only lived in Finland since the 1970s and has had connections to Finland all his life. You have lived in Finland how long? Let’s count the years… Oh yes not at all.

    Nähdään miten sulautumisstrategianne sujuu silloin, kun lapsenne saa toistuvasti turpiin koulussa ja opettaja väittää, että se johtui selvittämättömistä syistä.

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