December 17 Anniversary in Tunisia Date in the current year: December 17, 2024

December 17 Anniversary in Tunisia December 17 Anniversary is a Tunisian public holiday established in 2019. It commemorates the beginning of the Tunisian Revolution, also known as the Jasmine Revolution, that led to the ousting of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, commonly known as Ben Ali, served as the second President of Tunisia for almost two and a half decades. His rise to power began in 1986, when President Habib Bourguiba appointed him Minister of Interior. In 1987, Ben Ali was appointed Prime Minister, making him next in line to the presidency. Six weeks after his appointment, Ben Ali ousted Bourguiba and became the new president of Tunisia.

Ben Ali initially promised a more democratic regime, but it didn’t last long. His presidency was characterized by corruption, censorship, and human rights violations. Although his economic reforms did increase the country’s growth rate, many small businesses and poor people were left out of the newfound prosperity. Unemployment rates were high, especially among young people, and the new business elite resented that Ben Ali and his wife’s family controlled the majority of the country’s economy.

A series of demonstrations that resulted in the overthrow of Ben Ali’s regime was sparked by the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, a street vendor from Siri Bouzid whose wares were confiscated by municipal officials. He tried to complain to the governor, but to no avail. Angry and desperate, Bouazizi doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire in front of the governor’s office on December 17, 2010. He was taken to a hospital with severe burns and died on January 4, 2011.

Bouazizi’s self-immolation sparked countrywide protests against corruption, unemployment and the rising cost of living. Many of the demonstrations were initially peaceful, but turned violent and escalated into riots when the police dispersed them using force. The situation began to escalate rapidly in January and reached its peak on January 14, when over 100,000 people took to the streets.

In response, Ben Ali dissolved the government and declared a state of emergency. Several hours later, he fled to Saudi Arabia. Following Ben Ali’s official resignation on January 15, parliamentary speaker Fouad Mebazaa was appointed acting president.

In 2016, a group of parliamentarians suggested that December 17 be celebrated as a public holiday and introduced a corresponding bill. However, the legislative branch in Tunisia has no power to declare non-working public holidays because this is the prerogative of the executive branch.

Three years later, the initiative was supported by President Kais Saied, who declared December 17 an official public holiday named Fête nationale de la révolution (the National Holiday of the Revolution, also known as December 17 Anniversary). The inaugural official celebration took place on December 17, 2020.

December 17 Anniversary should not be confused with another public holiday celebrating the Jasmine revolution, Revolution and Youth Day. The latter is celebrated on January 14 to commemorate the ousting of Ben Ali and the end of the revolution.

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December 17 Anniversary in Tunisia, public holidays, holidays in Tunisia, Tunisian Revolution, Jasmine Revolution