Tunisia, shaken by days of nationwide unrest over price hikes, is marking seven years on Sunday since the North African nation drove out its long-time autocratic ruler.
Tunisians are calling for peaceful protests on the anniversary to tell the country’s new leaders that they have failed to fix problems that stirred the revolution.
President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali fled into exile on Jan. 14, 2011, transforming the country into a budding democracy that inspired the Arab Spring — then defied it by being the only country to keep its transition peaceful.
Now, protesters are driving home the message that they believe that six governments in power since then have crushed hopes of social and economic justice, and left them feeling betrayed.
Frustration was in full view last week when small demonstrations erupted around the country before ballooning and degenerating into theft, pillaging and car-burning in some places as momentum grew.
A police crackdown stemmed the protests by week’s end. But it was unclear whether the call by organizations and some politicians for peaceful demonstrations would fan passions.
One person died in unrest outside the capital, Tunis, and scores were injured, including 97 security officers in five days of unrest that began a week ago, Interior Ministry spokesman Khlifa Chibani said Friday. Dozens of police cars were damaged, two police stations burned and eight others ransacked. Arrests were put at nearly 780, including 16 religious extremists, for vandalism and looting.
“I’ve been out of work for seven years and see nothing ahead, no flicker of hope for a better future,” said Ali Ben Mahmoud, a university graduate from Tunis who took part in the initial demonstration last week organized by the group Fest Nestanaou (What Are We Waiting For).
Fatma Ben Hassine, a nearly empty shopping basket in…