[Letter] An ironic domino effectEvery Tunisian knew of the presidentialy family’s corruption. Everyone heard the rumors. But it was only when those rumors were backed by the weight of a series of reports by the U.S. ambassador to Tunisia back to the State Department, made public through WikiLeaks, that the cyber-revolution began.
Freedom of speech in Tunisia is an expression with no substance. The Tunisian press is not free. It has been through Facebook, Twitter and the use of Internet proxies that the people have circumvented censorship.
That, combined with the suicide of a university graduate in December and the increasing wealth disparity in the country, triggered the demonstrations that culminated with President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali leaving the country in his private jet. The word is that the youth in the entire Arab world are watching the events in Tunisia with interest. With good reason, the leaders of those countries will be watching too. It would be more than ironic if the “domino effect” that the U.S. hoped to achieve in the Arab world by toppling Saddam Hussein happens instead through the release of State Department cables.
Stephen Hay, director of People and Process in Wellington, New Zealand