TUNIS – Police fired tear gas to disperse thousands of protesters demanding jobs in the impoverished Tunisian city of Kasserine on Wednesday, as smaller demonstrations broke out in the capital and at least eight other towns, residents said.
Crowds burned tyres and chanted “Work, freedom, dignity” during a second day of demonstrations that erupted in the central city after an unemployed man killed himself, apparently after he was rejected for a job.
The death evoked memories of Tunisia’s 2011 “Arab Spring” uprising that broke out when a struggling young market vendor committed suicide, unleashing a wave of anger that forced longtime leader Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali to flee and inspiring mass protests across the Arab world.
On Tuesday, authorities declared a curfew in the city of Kasserine. The Interior Ministry said 20 protesters and three police officers had been injured in the clashes.
Residents said young people also took to the streets on Wednesday in Seliana, Tahala, Feriana and Sbiba, El Fahs, Kairouan, and Sousse, as well as the capital Tunis, where several hundred marched on the city’s central Habib Bourguiba Avenue.
Despite a shift to democracy since the toppling of Ben Ali, many Tunisians worry more about unemployment, high living costs and the ongoing marginalisation of rural towns – all factors that helped fuel the 2011 uprising.
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