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New On the Freedom Collection: Zied Mhirsi

February 1, 2013 3 minute Read by Christopher Walsh

Watch the Freedom Collection’s new interview with Dr. Zied Mhirsi, a Tunisian freedom advocate, blogger, and radio personality who participated in the country’s revolution in 2010. In 2004, Mhirsi was a pioneer in Tunisia’s pre-revolutionary blogosphere, and used his blog, Zizou From Djerba, as a platform to express ideas, opinions, and experiences.  He soon engaged others in the blogosphere on policy debates about topics like education, agriculture, and the environment. Initially, the Internet provided a venue for Tunisians to express themselves without being harassed by government authorities. As Zine el Abidine Ben Ali’s regime gained awareness of the blogosphere’s ability to influence society, bloggers like Mhrisi became targets of censorship and persecution.  Through this interview, Mhirsi provides a first-hand account of resisting such repression:  “At the end of the 2007-- era, we saw the first blogs being censored by Ben Ali.  And that increased more and more and more.  And at some point he managed kill the blogosphere.  But we kept this connection going.  And I can recall people meeting and gathering now in real life and trying to go and-- occupy the space-- the real space.  And-- organize some actions to protest against the Internet censorship.” Mhirsi became involved in Tunisian radio and through his broadcasts informed Tunisians about world events.  He also used radio as a means to promote social media.   This concept transformed into a weekly political show that featured voices from the Tunisian blogosphere. Recounting all that transpired during Tunisia’s uprising, Mhirsi conveys his experiences of life at the front lines of a revolution and the events leading to the fall of a dictator.   In describing the immediate aftermath of Ben Ali’s reign he said, “People were extremely anxious and didn't know what would be the future of Tunisia.  And at the same time, there was a lot of excitement, a lot of joy.  And that was a historical moment for us, I think, seeing that the regime was not as powerful as we thought and that people were not afraid anymore.” Since the revolution, Mhirsi has worked extensively with international media analyzing the post-revolution political situation, working with outlets such as CNN, Al Jazeera English, 60 Minutes, CBS News, the New York Times, and the Financial Times, to produce news stories, documentaries, and other shows.  He also co-founded Tunisia Live, the first Tunisian English-language news website. Watch the interview with Zied Mhirsi here. Christopher Walsh is Program Coordinator of the Freedom Collection

 


Author

Christopher Walsh
Christopher Walsh

Christopher Walsh serves as a Manager for the Human Freedom Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute.  In this role, Christopher manages communications, evaluation, and public policy research projects that advance freedom and democracy in the world. He also develops and implements efforts to make the Bush Institute a welcoming place for today’s generation of dissidents and democracy advocates, overseeing visits for training, inspiration, and insight. 

Prior to joining the Bush Institute, Christopher worked with the International Republican Institute in Washington, D.C. As IRI’s program officer for Central and Eastern Europe, he coordinated political party building and civic advocacy programs in the Balkans and Turkey.

A native of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Christopher is a graduate of American University with a B.A. in International Studies.  He currently lives in Dallas with his wife and three young children.

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