Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tunisia closes schools to slow rioters

Tunisia has closed down all schools and universities in a step to stop the recent rioting. Students and the unemployed are doing most of the rioting as they are becoming fed up with the lack of jobs and rampant poverty.

Some of the orchestrating of the riots have taken place over Facebook and Twitter. The Tunisian government has been asking internet service providers to hack into suspected protester accounts. This online hacking has drawn criticism from the US State Department.

From this New York Times article that we found at Press Democrat, writer David D. Kirkpatrick describes the response to the rioting.

At least 14 people have died in the riots, according to the official Tunisian news agency, which also reported the school closings. Opponents of the government contend that riot police officers have shot and killed many more since the riots broke out three weeks ago.

President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, in a televised address, promised to create more jobs, but also to stamp out any violence. He blamed unspecified enemies abroad for the rioting.

“The events were the work of masked gangs that attacked at night government buildings and even civilians inside their homes in a terrorist act that cannot be overlooked,” he said, according to Al Jazeera.

The riots began about three weeks ago after a 26-year-old man with a college degree, in despair at his dismal prospects, committed suicide by setting himself on fire. He had been trying to sell a container of fruits and vegetables, and the police confiscated his merchandise because he had no permit.

His self-immolation unleashed the pent-up anger of Tunisia’s educated and underemployed youth, and soon that of others as well.

On Monday, security forces surrounded a university where hundreds of students were trying to protest, according to Reuters. The rioting showed signs of spreading from provincial towns toward the cities of the Mediterranean coast which are central to the tourist industry, Reuters reported.

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