Sunday, 20 February 2011

We can't stop talking!

February 19 2011
Tunis. 5pm local time.

The boardwalk of Habib Bourguiba is heaving. Large, yet informal groups sometimes up to sixty strong, of mostly men, but also women, loudly debate.
Into this maelstrom of Muslim, Magreb, Arabis, Leftist, student, crowd, I (a six foot, fair skinned hijabi), stand out a mile. I try to be low profile and make notes on the amazing scene, notebook in hand but am quickly surrounded by a noisy crowd asking me questions.
'What do you think of this eh?' Shouts a young guy in Arabic ( I have a Palestinian colleague translating)
'We can say what we like and we love it!' Shouts another in French to loud laughter.
Meanwhile a young, smart, lady in her twenties has taken centre stage and in rapid fire French, explains that today, 'like every day!' there was a protest here, pushing for various interests not to be ignored in the anarchy of changeover. Workers rights, student rights, protestors right, human rights, who is to protect these things and take up the mantle of new leader in this one month old new nation of Tunisia?'
The woman's speech is so erudite and compelling even the drunk man who has been yelling non stop
'Tell them we don' hate Jews!' Over and over again falls silent.

Debate, shout, rage, comment, inform, discuss, disseminate; The people of Tunisia have begun being talking politics in public and they just can't stop.

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