Earlier this year the Tunisian people overthrew their dictator of 23 years and, in doing so, inspired similar protests for democracy across the Middle East and North Africa. These movements are often collectively referred to as “The Arab Spring.” Each country in the region is currently at a different stage in their revolution, and no country has yet succeeded in transforming their revolution into a stable form of government. A few weeks ago I arrived in Tunis to interview those who live in the region and, through their stories, explore that murky period of time between revolutions and institutions.
The story I am sharing today concerns Libya, a nation whose revolution began four months ago and has resulted in some more stable institutions (such as the National Transitional Council in the country’s east), but which by and large has left its community in the throes of a power struggle. This power struggle has spilled into neighboring Tunisia, where rebel forces and those loyal to Muammar Gaddafi battle for control of world opinion. Every day throughout Tunisia, defecting Libyan diplomats denounce the regime, loyal diplomats praise it, and some of Libya’s 40,000 refugees plug in to the Internet to tell their side of the story.
Among these refugees is Kais (whose name he asked me to change for his safety) who has spent the last two months uploading to the Internet videos taken in Libya. Kais is especially interested in highlighting the conflict in his hometown of Tripoli where he claims a silent — and brutal — crackdown on protestors is taking place. I met Kais in a tailor’s shop in downtown Tunis where he was picking up a Libyan rebel flag. He sat down with me for a couple of hours to walk me through the videos he had uploaded to YouTube, and to share his story:
// As published on MIT CoLab Radio.