Tunisia seemed to be a politically stable, economically prosperous country. The President for 23 years, Ben Ali, ruled the country with no real worries. But deep down, dissent was present due to the suppression of civil liberties and also the gap between the rich and the poor.
When a 26 year old graduate, Mohamed Bouazizi, set fire to himself, things heated up. He had become a fruit and vegetable vendor because he could not find other employment. The police confiscated his goods as he supposedly did not have a permit to sell them. Bouazizi later succumbed to his injuries.
The government tried to suppress the protests which escalated. Internet social networking sites such as facebook and twitter played a prominent role in organizing and publicizing protest marches. Youtube also played a prominent role. the government could not erase the black mark which fell on it.
To many who were not aware of the internal problems in Tunisia, this protest came as a surprise. When President Ben Ali fled the country on January 14, 2011, it was a bigger surprise.
This Tunisian revolution is a good indication of the power the internet and especially the social networking websites have on the society. It is one of the main reasons for some regimes banning or trying to ban these kinds of networks.