A North African nation with a population of more than 10 million people, Tunisia has long been considered an ally of the US because of its hard-line against terrorism. Because of the country’s large middle-class, good economic growth and high levels of education, the West considered Ben Ali’s Tunisia a “moderate Muslim nation.”
Despite this, Ben Ali, who ruled the country for 23 years, was a repressive leader who routinely won previous elections with 90 percent of the vote. Tunisia’s unemployment rate among college graduates has been reported as high as 20 percent, police repression and corruption is rampant, the president’s wife has been accused of stealing vast amounts of wealth from the nation and state censorship leaves citizens with few freedoms.
Before his departure, Ben Ali made one last attempt at quelling the protests by offering to not seek re-election in 2014 and said he would give the people more freedoms, all to no avail.
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