Violent Protests in Tunisia After Journalist Immolates Self

Video Editor: Varun Sharma

Violent protests erupted in Kasserine, Tunisia after a journalist set himself on fire to protest against unemployment and poor economic conditions of the country. Authorities said that he later succumbed to his injuries.

Locals clashed with the cops causing nationwide concern. The police fired tear gas to disperse protesters who blocked roads and threw stones at police. Interior Ministry spokesman Sofiane Zaag said Tuesday that six police officers were injured and several people arrested in the protest.

Journalist Abderrazak Zorgui posted a video online before his self-immolation in the struggling provincial city of Kasserine describing his desperation and calling for revolt. He expressed frustration at unemployment and the unfulfilled promises of Tunisia's 2011 Arab Spring revolution.

"They don’t have anything to eat to fill their stomachs. They come to protest and take to the streets; they (authorities) call us ‘terrorists’. They just tell us to shut up. You leave the unemployed and help those who own businesses. There are people who have found a way to make a living, and there are people who cannot. There are people who are neglected and are poor. They have nothing at all. They look as if they’re alive but they’re dead." - Abderrak Zorgui, Tunisian journalist 

The Tunisian National Journalists' Union called for demonstrations and a possible strike in response to the journalist's death. In a statement, it accused the state of contributing to Zorgui's death by not cracking down on corruption.

Tunisian reporters expressed solidarity with Zorgui, lamenting precarious conditions for freelancers with no legal protections and low pay amid Tunisia's struggling economy.

"In fact, a large number of journalists in Tunisia live in a fragile situation, both financially and legally." - Chadli Araibi, Tunisian freelance journalist  "Not to justify suicide, the reasons for this young man’s suicide are poverty and marginalisation, as well as the fragile situation of most journalists in Tunisia." - Latifa Labiadh, Radio journalist  

A similar self-immolation - by a street vendor lamenting unemployment, corruption and repression - led to nationwide protests fuelled by social media that brought down Tunisia's long-time authoritarian president in 2011. That ushered in democracy for Tunisia and unleashed similar movements around the Arab world.

(With inputs from AP)

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