Manobiah Bouazizi, the mother of Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian street vendor who became the catalyst for the Tunisian Revolution, speaks about the developments in the country on the third anniversary of the uprising that started The Arab Spring.

Three years have passed since your son, Mohammed Bouazizi, set himself on fire as an expression of his feelings of injustice. There have been many similar incidents since then. How do you interpret these incidents? 

Manobiah Bouazizi, the mother of Mohamed Bouazizi, the Tunisian street vendor who became the catalyst for the Tunisian Revolution, speaks about the developments in the country on the third anniversary of the uprising that started The Arab Spring.

Three years have passed since your son, Mohammed Bouazizi, set himself on fire as an expression of his feelings of injustice. There have been many similar incidents since then. How do you interpret these incidents? 

My son, may God have mercy on him, has re-written the history of the country.  Who would have ever imagined that a desperate move by a young man worried about his future with could change the history of Tunisia and overthrow the tyrant Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Mohammed had succeeded in achieving what many politicians couldn’t, including those who were imprisoned and who lived outside the country for a long time.

My son Mohammed is like any other ordinary citizen. He revolted against injustice without even having any ideological background.  By burning himself, he wanted to revolt against injustice, oppression and hunger.

His move succeeded without him even knowing it. The fire that ate his body also sparked the Tunisian revolution and the entire successive Arab revolutions. This step made him immortal because of its success. It is for this reason that I believe that the most powerful form of protest against injustice, oppression and tyranny, is committing suicide using Bouzaizi’s method.

The year 2013 has witnessed the assassination of politicians in Tunisia such as Chokri Belaid and Mohammed Brahmi. How do you interpret these events? 

These are very painful events and may God have mercy on them. They started with silencing the voice of Chokri Belaid, the champion of the oppressed, the poor and the needy in Siliana, Sidi Bouzid, Kasserine, Gafsa and other disadvantaged and marginalized areas in Tunisia. Chokri was like my son Mohammed, he was courageous and he was a hero. 

Then they silenced the voice of Mohammed Brahmi, the son of Sidi Bouzid and this sparked the revolution. It seems like the killer wanted to assassinate the whole revolution in Tunisia, especially if we know that Brahmi, like Belaid, was a dedicated defender of the rights of the vulnerable and disadvantaged groups in society.  I am very upset and it is so painful for me to see the blood of men being wasted just to bring new rulers who would have never have dreamed of returning to Tunisia without the sacrifices made by these men. 

In the last year, there have been many soldiers and security men who were killed and there were attempts to bomb pensions and hotels.  What do you think about such acts? 

Although I am not very well aware of what is going on in the political scene, I believe that what has happened is very serious. Such things did not even happen during the days of the tyrant Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. We did not hear of terrorism, bombings, murder and slaughter. With the new rulers everything became permissible and possible and I believe that the reason behind this is the big failure in dealing with all issues and the government’s inability to provide security and protection for the Tunisians.

How do you assess the performance of the two Ennahda governments led first by Hamadi Jebali and then by Larayedh? 

The two governments are the same and they both failed and were not able to achieve any of the aims of the revolution. They were keener to serve their own interests more than anything else. The conditions witnessed today by the Tunisian people are the proof that the former government hasn’t been able to make any step forward or any tangible achievement for the Tunisians who became very much exhausted in the past few years. 

Lately, the national dialogue has induced new changes on the political level as reflected in an end to Ennahda’s rule. What do you think about these developments?

I support any party or person who is capable of serving the country. The interest of Tunisia is above all other interests and considerations.  Any new ruler who works with determination, honesty and sincerity should be supported and trusted.

What are your expectations for the new Constitution? 

Although I am very keen to follow-up on the latest developments, I am not able to understand what they are doing or planning. I am convinced that Tunisia needs a very brave man who is capable of serving the country and its people. It needs a man who supports the cause of the vulnerable and weak people and who is capable of ending corruption. This is what I understand and what I want to see happening…

Recently, a fund was created to compensate prisoners who suffered during the days of Ben Ali’s regime.  Do you support this project or not? 

It’s really funny. Are they the ones who overthrew the president?  Are they the ones who irrigated Tunisian’s soil with their blood?  No one would accept this. However, this is what the new rulers want.  They found everything ready and they came to share the spoils.  I am sure that the Tunisian people do not accept this. 

The prices of consumer goods have increased significantly and reached record levels. Do you think that this is normal under the exceptional circumstances witnessed by Tunisia since the revolution?

This is not fair at all and it does not please God. How could things develop and reach this very serious stage?  These conditions are mainly and dramatically affecting the ordinary Tunisian citizen. The Tunisian people revolted to achieve justice, equality and better living conditions but unfortunately, the poor became poorer after the revolution and most of the Tunisian people are now unable to meet the basic life requirements. The continuous increase in prices has made the people live under extremely poor living conditions. 

How do you explain the continued strikes and protests and the rise in their frequency despite the passage of three years since the outbreak of the revolution?

Until today, the Tunisian citizen has not find any solution to its problems.  Moreover, the government has failed, its policies did not bear any fruits and negative aspects continued to prevail.  Today, citizens can only protest and demand their rights while politicians are only busy with posts and with how to reach high-ranking positions. 

In the past year a large number of journalists and artists were imprisoned.  How do you evaluate this phenomenon?

It is injustice. Every person who speaks out and reveals facts is being silenced. This is injustice and oppression, but the Tunisian people are no longer afraid and they don’t fear dictators. Their voice will always be loud no matter the size of injustice inflicted on them. 

What is your opinion about the return of the members of the Constitutional Democratic Rally to the political scene?

Every person has the right to express his opinions in a free country. However, responsible citizens know well the right choices and they give their votes to those who will serve the country. 

The interim Tunisian President Mohammed Moncef Marzouki published his “Black Book” to expose those who were serving the former regime. Do you support this step taken by the president? 

What he did had only brought him more evil results and he only defeated himself by publishing the book. It would have been better if he had introduced a positive image of himself instead of attacking others. He did not spare anyone, the dead people, those who are still alive; even sports were attacked.

Since we are talking about sports, how do you interpret the failure of the Tunisian football team to qualify for the World Cup?

It is so unfortunate. Today, no good omen exists in Tunisia.

On the third anniversary of the outbreak of the first Tunisian revolution, on December 17, the three presidents – the president of the republic, the government and the National Constituent Assembly – were not present.  Could it be because they wanted to avoid being welcomed by stones in the same manner that happened during the second anniversary?

This very symbolic anniversary that should have been honoured. I really don’t know the real reasons behind their absence but they were supposed to be present regardless of the reasons and the obstacles. I believe that attending the ceremony of the third anniversary of the outbreak of the revolution is pride and honour for them and for all the Tunisian people.  It is the duty of these rulers to celebrate the exact date of the Tunisian revolution and not to ignore it just because there were some violations committed during the previous anniversary.

Did you listen to the Houmani rap song that became so popular on the streets of Tunis and became the most popular song in the country? 

I do not know this song and I never heard it.  If you ask me about the Koran and about books that concern our Islamic religion, I would be able to answer you. However, I am not a person who follows songs and my relationship to God does not give me enough time to do so.