Revolution in Tunisia: A Historical Analysis of the Uprisings that Began the Arab Spring

Student Author(s)

Sophia Hart

Faculty Mentor(s)

Dr. Janis Gibbs

Document Type


Event Date



Tunisia was the first country to have a revolution in the Arab Spring of 2010. The history of Tunisia serves to explain how and why the uprisings came about. Tunisia, as it has developed through the 20th and 21st centuries, was and is engaged in a struggle between the traditional and the modern. This is clear in the various contributing factors that led to the revolution. Those factors include a restrictive, authoritarian, and corrupt government, an educated populace, the desire of the Tunisian people to choose their own government, and poor economic conditions. Religion also played a role in the revolution. After Tunisia gained its independence in 1956, its leaders Habib Bourguiba and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali set out to secularize Tunisia. Religion essentially became excluded from the public sphere. Many Tunisians in 2010 called for the revival of Islam in the public domain. The Islam they called for in their government, though, was not a radical and oppressive Islam, but a pluralistic and accepting one. Tunisians rose up against their government in 2010 because of the varied tensions that had developed over the years between the interior and coastal regions, the modern and the traditional, the secular and the religious, and the wealthy and the poor.

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