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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
Christopher Walsh serves as Senior Program Manager for the Human Freedom and Women's 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.Full Bio
Chinese Prisoner’s Death Holds a Message for Americans and China
Liu Xiaobo, China’s most prominent dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner died this week. His death holds a message for Americans and for China.
Release of Chinese Political Prisoner a Timely Reminder to Support Freedom Advocates Abroad
More than half the world’s population still lives in countries where basic political rights and civil liberties are only partly respected, if at all.
Bringing Freedom to the Forefront of 21st Century Politics
Is the global liberal democratic order in danger? Purposefully constructed in the aftermath of World War II, this order -- and the American leadership that is central to its success --has contributed to securing peace and expanding prosperity in the United States and around the world. Today, that order appears to be dissolving. This crisis is not new or sudden; it has been mounting for several years. Global challenges like authoritarian capitalism, violent extremism, demographic pressures, and displaced populations have placed global freedom in decline. Fraying traditional alliances united by core values of freedom are increasingly weak to respond. It is alarming that the downdraft in democratic resilience over the past decade or more includes countries that have long been part of the consolidated democratic West. This is democratic deconsolidation. In much of the Western world, we see a rise in demagogic populism, illiberalism, nationalism, protectionism, and waning conf
The Importance of Speaking Truth to Tyrants
What the president of the United States says matters. Even during the realpolitik policies of détente under Richard Nixon, it was still clear that American policy was based on a set of core values. Nixon’s practical goals of reaching deals with America’s adversaries was never based on the “great chemistry” with himself or praising the Soviet or Communist Chinese leadership doing a “fantastic job.” When the president aligns himself with the autocrats and dictators, he aligns America with their oppression. He sends a message that corruption and brutality are not our concern. Contrast that with how Ronald Reagan defied much of world opinion in calling out the brutality of the Soviet system. Natan Sharansky, then a refusenik imprisoned in a Soviet gulag, later wrote for the Weekly Standard of his thoughts on Reagan’s pronouncement that the USSR was an evil empire: “It was the great, brilliant moment whe