Tunisia: The Day Ben Ali Became President

This post is part of our special coverage Tunisia Revolution 2011.

On November 7, 1987, former Tunisian President Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali, who now lives in exile in Saudi Arabia, came to power through a bloodless coup. Ben Ali became president, after doctors of his predecessor Habib Bourguiba filed a medical report claiming that the latter was medically incapable of fulfilling his duties as president.

Since the peaceful transfer of power took place, Ben Ali acted as the Tunisian President until he was forced to leave office on January 14, following a popular uprising that swept the North African country.

An example of how the streets of Tunis were decorated on November 7, 2009. The banner reads: Ben Ali Our Only Choice. Photo by Hamideddine Bouali

An example of how the streets of Tunis were decorated on November 7, 2009. The banner reads: Ben Ali Our Only Choice. Photo by Hamideddine Bouali

If Ben Ali was still in power, he would have been celebrating the 24th anniversary of his presidency. His pictures, and the purple color of his party [the Constitutional Democratic Rally, known by its French acronym, the RCD], would have been decorating the streets of Tunisia, from North to South.

Netizens react to the anniversary with relief.

Houssem H. tweets [fr]:

Demain ta ville ne sera pas repeinte en mauve #7nov

Tomorrow the city will not be painted in purple

For this occasion, Tunisian blogger Imen Braham created a Tumblr blog and named it November 7th Without of Ben Ali. The blog is dedicated to share and mock previous speeches of the former President, and songs praising him.

She tweets [fr]:

Je viens de céer le Tumblr du #7nov sans Ben Ali pour nous rappeler ce qu'on va rater cette année :D

I have just created the tumblr of #7nov without Ben Ali, so that we remember what we are going to miss this year :D

She adds in another tweet:

If you find stuff about previous #7nov in tunisia you can share with us :) http://7nov.tumblr.com/ Tunisia isn't missing it's dictator

For instance, Imen shared a televised speech by Ben Ali, in which he was addressing the youth on the occasion of the International Year for Youth. She commented [ar]:

كلمة بن علي بمناسبة السنة الدولية للشباب! قال نريد الشباب أن يجلب إلى تونس الشرف ! الشباب طردك وجابلنا الشرف

The speech of Ben Ali on the occasion of the International Year for Youth. He said: ”We want youth to bring honor to Tunisia.” The youth kicked you out and brought us all honor

Another tumblr blog called Le musée mauve (The Purple Museum) [fr] was created, for the same purpose.

Oussama Messaoud, wrote an imaginary speech [ar], of what would Ben Ali have said, had he still been in power. About his text, Oussama writes:

إنه من محض تصوري لما كان سيقوله في مثل هذا اليوم لمزيد إحكام قبضته وقبضة منظومته الفاسدة تحت شعارات الديمقراطية والحريات
The speech is my imagination of what Ben Ali would have said, to further tighten his fist, and that of his corrupt regime, under the slogans of democracy, and liberties

In this imaginary speech, Ben Ali says:

حتفل بلادنا اليوم بالذكرى 24 لتحول السابع من نوفمبر في جو من الفرحة والشعور بالفخر والاعتزاز بما تعيشه بلادنا من مظاهر الحرية والديمقراطية بعد الأحداث التي شهدتها بعض مناطق تونسنا العزيزة في الأشهر الاولى من هذه السنة والتي تعمدت من خلالها بعض الفئات الاجرامية إدخال البلبلة وعدم الإستقرار. 

Our country today, celebrates the 24th anniversary of the change of November 7, in an atmosphere of joy, and pride for the freedoms and democracy, that our country is living, after the events that some of the regions of our dear Tunisia witnessed in the early months of this year, and by which some criminal groups intended to spread chaos and instability

He adds:

كما نعلن تمسكنا بتعهداتنا بعدم الترشح لمدة رئاسية جديدة في سنة 2014 وبتنظيم إستفتاء شعبي لإصلاح دستور البلاد (…)
كما اولينا العناية الفائقة للمناطق الداخلية للوطن من خلال إنشاء جامعة سيدي بوزيد للصناعات التقليدية وجامعة تالة للعلوم الشبابية
We also announce our commitment to our promises by not running for a new presidency in 2014, and organizing a popular poll to reform the constitution of our country [in his last speech and in an attempt to absorb the anger of the street, Ben Ali promised not to run for another presidency, and to introduce democratic reforms] (…) We also took care of the interior regions, by establishing the University of Sidi Bouzid for Artisan Industries, and the University of Thala for Youth Sciences [the protests in Tunisia started in the interior regions, such as Sidi Bouzid, and Thala. Such regions were marginalized, and left behind]

This November 7 overlapped with the second day of Eid Al Adha celebrations. On Twitter, Protact makes the connection:

@protact: tunisian are celebrating the second day of #Aid and the first #7Nov day without the ousted president speech.

And Mira adds [fr]:

@Mira404: Cette année en égorgeant leurs moutons bcp de tunisiens vont penser à Ben Ali.

This year while scarifying their sheep, many Tunisians will remember Ben Ali

This post is part of our special coverage Tunisia Revolution 2011.

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