On the one hand, there is work and hope, on the other hand there is death and despair. In some cases, the latter can lead to drastic choices from which there is no return. 6,000 Tunisians have joined the cause of the self-styled Islamic State. Thousands of young men and women who chose to enlist and die fighting. In exchange for their lives, the Caliphate promises young Tunisians a possibility, an insurance for their families. First a regular salary, then a reserved place in Paradise.
All those things happen in a place torn apart by deep social inequities, officially a moderate and free State, which in truth struggles to find stability. The Arab Spring of 2011 brought democracy and freedom. Yet, this improvement of the political situation was accompanied by serious social problems: first of all youth unemployment, which this year has reached 62%, according to data released by OECD. Thousands of young people, including graduates, who do not only have difficulties in finding work, but who also feel abandoned by their country, at the mercy of a future that does not bode well. Every day in Tunis there are dozens of protests. The unemployed demand answers: some of them literally sew their mouth to get the attention of the institutions, other camp in front of the palaces of the institutions without drinking or eating for days.
In such a daunting social and economic context, threatened by the possibility that terrorism may become the only alternative to the government’s shortcomings, stands out the story of 58 unemployed people who have marched for 400 km, from Gafsa to Tunis, to protest in front of the buildings of the institutions. They are a small army of desperate, poor people who ask to be heard and helped. Fatigue, heat, the dust on the streets, and hopelessness did not stop them. They marched towards the capital moved by hunger for justice and dignity that does not fear anything except indifference. While they are speaking in front of the cameras of the local television, shaking their hands ruined by years of honest work, as if to give a symbolic slap to unjust life, which is pushing them, the new generation and the whole country, towards a dark future.
“We do not want anything, we just want the labor law,” a young man said in front of the cameras. His eyes look tired, but there is determination in them not to give up. “I am already 38 – another protester says – what shall I do with my life without a job?” All of them point out that theirs is not an attempt to discredit the government. They are not motivated by political unrest or lack of money, but by the feeling that the State is forgetting them. “Tunisia can only recover through its youth and its competence”, according to a recent affirmation of the former Tunisian Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa, who is working on a new party, “Alternative Tunisia.” The current prime minister, however, promises a new model of development based on social justice. These words, however, have not been transformed inn any concrete facts so far.
“The government owes us answers, our youth is sensible and knows what it wants – says a spokesman for the protesters – and, God forbid, but if everyone takes action, nobody knows where it is going to lead. At that point, ministerial committees, ministers, and promises will be useless. “On the one hand, there is the dignity of those who demand changes and who is ready to sacrifice their life for them, on the other hand, there is the despair of those 6000 young people who have chosen terror and who are likely to die without seeing the rebirth of their country.