On December 17, 2010, in the village of Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia, the street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in protest after a policewoman confiscated his wares and slapped him in the face. When cell-phone videos of local protests against Bouazizi’s treatment were circulated on Facebook and broadcast on Al Jazeera, they sparked an uprising that toppled Tunisia’s authoritarian regime and gave birth to the Arab Spring. Today, Tunisia struggles to manage an economic downturn, a worsening security situation, and a flood of Libyan refugees across its southern border as it works to build a constitutional democracy in the Arab World.
Sean Carman is spending two weeks in Tunisia. These are his reports.