Angelique Chrisafis reports:
Wiping his hands on his apron as chickens turned on a spit, Haj Ali Yocoubi gestured from his restaurant towards a burned-out building and a few carcasses of cars. The chef in his 50s witnessed some of the worst repression of January’s Tunisian revolution, when police killed several young protesters in Ettadhamen, this poor, densely populated suburb known as the “badlands” of Tunis. Since then, sporadic rioting has raged past his pavement tables.
Last month Yocoubi closed his restaurant early as the unrest flared following more anti-government protests. A state curfew was imposed as young men went on rampages, burning banks, shops and police stations and looting.
“It’s as if people are on a knife-edge. This is a tinderbox. It seems calm but you sense it could blow at the slightest thing,” Yocoubi said. “People still can’t find jobs. For the first time we feel free to speak out, but there’s a political limbo. We hear about democracy, but now we’d actually like to live in one please.”
It is six months since the rural fruitseller Mohamed Bouazizi set himself alight in despair at the humiliations of the regime, sparking a people’s revolution that ousted Tunisia’s dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and inspired uprisings across the region. But Tunisia has yet to properly celebrate its revolution.