Fear has changed sides in Tunisia. For years the Tunisian population, its youth, its workers, its mothers were paralysed by fear of repression. Political lethargy was the rule, revolt the odd exception. Now things have turned upside down. Defiance of the brutal regime, its state, its spies, its media, its ruling party, its police and its army has become the rule during the three weeks of the uprising which has shaken Tunisia. This represents a seismic change in the consciousness of the youth and the general psyche of the masses, the poor as well as the middle class. This has had an impact not only in Tunisia but in the whole Arab world.

In the last two weeks, the streets of Tunisia have been the scene of clashes between protesters and the forces of repression. The direct cause behind the outbreak of these events is the solidarity shown by the masses with a young man who immolated himself in the the town of Sidi Bouzid on the 17th December. After this incident, another young man (Hussein Falahi) committed suicide by jumping off a electricity pylon to protest against his unemployment. After this, a third young man, aged 34, committed suicide by jumping into a well in the Gdir region. These acts reflect the deep frustration that young Tunisians are experiencing.

Several suicide attempts by young Tunisians, as protest against poverty and unemployment, sparked a number of riots and protests all over the country in the last few weeks. We publish here a short English introduction to an article in Arabic. A translation of the more detailed analysis will be published tomorrow.