The story of Gabès and the local phosphate industry follows a plot that is all too familiar: an underdeveloped town located in an industrial region boasts one major lucrative industry with high output and export values, but the local population and surroundings experience alarming levels of illness and environmental blight.
By now, most movie fans know that American actor Leonardo DiCaprio was in this southern French city for the annual Cannes Film Festival. But fewer people are aware that Willis from Tunis and Kichka of Israel were also here.
When participants at the 2011 World Social Forum in Dakar, Senegal, received word that former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had stepped down, swept away by a wave of popular resistance that brought millions of Egyptians into the streets, few could contain their joy.
Ela, a young Tunisian woman whose face is barely visible behind her niqab, says she has spent five months protesting a university ban against the religious garment in the classroom “to no avail”. On the other side of the capital Tunis, a group of students decked out in djellabas and keffiyehs (traditional Tunisian costumes) with the Tunisian flag wrapped around their shoulders, perform the Harlem Shake: a dance form that originated in the United States in the early 1980s but has recently gone viral online as a popular meme.
Tunisian families have begun to dread knocks on their doors, or late-night phone calls, fearing that the messenger will bear the news that their son has been smuggled out of the country to join the “jihad” in Syria.
The conference drew both supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad; conflicting opinions about the Polisario Front and the politics of Western Sahara; Palestinian activists and the Jewish Anti-Zionist Network. In short, the 13th
edition of the World Social Forum, held in Tunis on Mar. 26-30, was a melting pot of struggles and a search for common ground.
“We need a solution. The U.N. has created the problem, and they should do their work and fix it,” says Bright, a young Nigerian stuck in the Choucha refugee camp in Tunisia, a few kilometres from the Libyan border.
The World Social Forum’s traditional focus on economic, political and social injustice caused by globalisation shifted towards the revolts and unrest of the Arab Spring, in the current edition of the global gathering in Tunisia.
In the final countdown to this year's World Social Forum (WSF), Tunisian civil society and the country's capital, Tunis, prepares for an influx of over 50,000 visitors. With the dates of the forum set for Mar. 26-30, uncompleted tasks are being fast-tracked while the university campus that will host the forum is being given a security face-lift.
The extent to which Tunisians are able to express themselves freely is an ever-changing phenomenon. While the country is still in the grips of turmoil after the recent killing of left-wing politician Chokri Belaid, which sparked some of the largest protests since the initial revolution in 2011 that toppled Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the airing of dissent has become second nature for many.
Tunisia's prime minister has said that he will dissolve the Islamist-led government and form a national unity administration, following the killing of prominent secular opposition figure Shokri Belaid in front of his home.
Having survived the announced end of the world on Dec. 21, we can now try to foretell our immediate future, based on geopolitical principles that will help us understand the overall shifts of global powers and assess the major risks and dangers.
As the Arab Spring enters its third year, new Arab democracies and the international community should reflect on several critical lessons from the past two years.
A Third World War is not impossible, but fortunately is rather unlikely. Let us explore why, and what can be done to prevent it.
Following in the wake of the wave of revolutions dubbed the ‘Arab Spring’, which originated here nearly two years ago, North Africa is gearing up to host the World Social Forum (WSF) for the first time.