Tunisia has declared a nationwide curfew after days of protests and rioting over jobs and economic conditions. The country’s Interior Ministry announced on Friday that the curfew will begin overnight, warning that those who disobey the decision would risk prosecution.
In a statement it announced, “In light of these attacks against public and private property, and given that the continuation of these acts represents a danger to the security of citizens, it was decided to declare a curfew across Tunisia from 20:00 to 05:00.”
According to the report, the unrest was triggered on January 17, when a young man who had reportedly been sacked from his government job protested by climbing a transmission tower and was electrocuted.
Protests over unemployment started in the western Kasserine province of the country, and on Thursday it was intensified and spread to other parts of the country.
There were many solidarity rallies in Tunis, Sidi Bouzid and Gafsa, with reports of suicide attempts as frustration over the lack of jobs boiled over. In the town of Feriana, a policeman was reportedly killed when demonstrators overturned his car.
From the beginning of this week, people have been holding demonstrations against unemployment and poverty across towns in central Tunisia. The city of Kasserine was the hotbed of the protests where clashes erupted for the first time between police and protesters earlier in the week.
On Friday the situation in Kasserine was clam but protesters gathered in front of the governor’s office, they said they would continue the protests.
Leila Omri, the mother of an unemployed graduate in Kesserine said “Are we not Tunisians too? It’s been four years I’ve been struggling. We’re not asking for much, but we’re fighting for our youth. We struggled so much for them.”
On Friday, officials said that in the outskirts of the capital city, 16 people had been arrested following acts of “sacking and pillaging of businesses and banks.”
There are reports of using tear gas by the law enforcement agencies to repel protesters in balaclavas and armed with stones and Molotov cocktails. It was reported that last night in the town of Ettadhamen, a police station was attacked and stores were looted.
Tunisian Interior Ministry spokesman Walid Louguini said “We stand with peaceful protesters, but other acts – violence against public and private property – will be severely punished.” He also added that those looting the banks and businesses were “criminals trying to take advantage of the situation.”
According to Tunisian news media, the countries Prime Minister Habib Essid was cutting short a visit to France to deal with the growing protests which could spark a new wave of unrest in the country more than four years after a similar uprising led to the ouster of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
The west always have shown example of Tunisia as a model of democracy and freedom. Many western analyst said that the positive result of the Arab spring movement was manifested through the change in Tunisia four years back. Now the western idol of democracy is in deep trouble with social injustice and unemployment.