As Tunisia marks the five-year anniversary of the Jasmine Revolution that toppled longtime dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, Alhurra Television and Radio Sawa commemorated the event. Programs on both networks examined vital issues of importance to Arabic-speaking audiences of the Middle East and North Africa whose lives were affected by the Jasmine Revolution and uprisings that spread from one Arab society to another, which came to be known as the Arab Spring.
Starting Monday, January 11, Alhurra’s daily talk show Free Hour travelled to Tunisia for a week of comprehensive programing on this historic occasion that reshaped the Middle East. The program hosted in-depth discussions with Tunisian politicians, analysts, civil society activists and leaders of parties from across the political spectrum, addressing political polarization in Tunisia, security challenges and the threat of terrorism, challenges to political multi-partisanship and the role of youth in social and political development. Free Hour sat with the Tunisian President, Beji Caid Essebsi, in Carthage Palace for an exclusive interview in which he commented on the political and democratic transition in Tunisia, national strategy on youth migration between the EU and Tunisia, the threat of ISIL recruiting Tunisian youth, U.S.-Tunisia relations, the impact of terrorism on social and economic development, and national dialogue and reconciliation. In addition, the program interviewed the leader of the Islamist Ennahda Party, Rachid al-Ghannouchi, who spoke on the country’s political landscape and distribution of power in Tunisia.
Free Hour’s Hussein Jradi visited Habib Bourguiba Avenue, the main thoroughfare in central Tunis and the epicenter of the revolution, and explored the views of Tunisian citizens who thronged the street celebrating the fifth anniversary. “The revolution achieved some of its goals such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press and citizens’ rights. But unemployment is high, especially among people with university degrees,” a young person said.
“The people are suffering. We carried out the revolution to advance, but it did not fulfill our aspirations. We are suffering and everything is worse than before,” a young lady expressed.
The program also hosted a town hall meeting with young Tunisians to highlight the social and political advancements Tunisians hope to realize five years into the post-revolution era. The guests identified the challenges people face on a daily basis and their efforts to build a future in the wake of passing a new constitution, achieving a multi-party legislature and electing a new president.
Alhurra’s Al Youm aired reports also focusing on political and democratic developments in Tunisia. Al Youm highlighted the interconnectedness of the Arab uprisings and the prospects for post-authoritarian transition to democracy in Tunisia and beyond.
Alhurra televised a documentary on the revolution, Unlikely Heroes of the Arab Spring, presented by the award-winning author and property-rights activist Hernando de Soto. Unlikely Heroes tells the story of the basic human and economic events that led to the Arab uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa.
In addition to Radio Sawa’s newscasts that reported on the fifth anniversary of the Jasmine Revolution, Radio Sawa’s daily political feature program, Sawa Magazine, examined the political and economic progress that has occurred in Tunisia since the revolution by interviewing Salah Barqawi of the Nidaa Tunis Party and Tarek Al Kahlawi of the Tunis Will Movement.
MBN’s Digital Team engaged with audiences through Facebook and Twitter by posting videos and photos from Tunisia on the anniversary of the Jasmine Revolution as well as by posting thought-provoking questions. Among the questions posted for discussion were: “How long will it take Tunisia to realize democracy? Does terrorism in Tunisia and Libya come from the same origin? Has the so-called Arab Spring been fruitful?” Interviews with Tunisian people from all walks of life were posted highlighting their assessments of what their country has achieved and the challenges it continues to face including unemployment, fighting terrorism, achieving a unity government, and representation of youth in the government post the revolution.
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Contact Chams Eddin
Communications Specialist, Alhurra Television, Radio Sawa