Tunisian student 'not afraid anymore'

Asma Ghibri
Image caption Asma Ghibri says monitoring news of recent events has left her with little time to sleep

Tunisian postgraduate student Asma Ghibri tells the BBC World Service that despite continuing political turmoil in her country, she is optimistic for the future.

The 23-year-old, who is studying at Manouba University in Tunis, says at first she did not believe that the demonstrations could lead to the fall of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

"To be honest, at the beginning of the unrest I did not believe this change could happen.

I have many friends who were posting or sharing videos and being active on Facebook and supporting the movement for change.

I did not join them at first, because I thought these were just futile efforts. To cause the collapse of a well-established system is not an easy thing to do.

But then I started to believe in it. I watched how the international press reacted, and the president made speeches, and I understood that something very important was going on - and then I started to participate.

I told myself that the incident of the young man burning himself was like a sign or wake-up call.

I thought: 'Hey, it's now or never, it's an opportunity that destiny has offered and we have to take advantage of it.'


The changes are driven by young people. Some of my friends were among those leading this revolution.

For example, on the morning of 14 January I received a text message from a friend saying: 'Today we will meet and today we will be free.'

Tunisia was stable. But it was not stable because we were satisfied.

It was stable because we were self-censoring ourselves, because we did not have the right to say what we thought, to express ourselves.

For example, in our university we could not even go to the Dean and tell him that there was this or that problem, because we feared that once he had registered your name we would not succeed that year.

Now I am not afraid anymore. Thank God for that.

Now I am free. I am able to talk, to participate in political life, to say what I want.

Politically active

Image caption Asma Ghibri says Tunisian people have gained a lot of confidence

We don't know when the universities will be reopened.

Many students have called the national television to ask when we will be going back to school. Up to know we have no date.

There is still disagreement within the new cabinet, so I don't think we will be going back soon.

But young people here are quite optimistic now.

I have decided to become politically active - I will look at the opposition parties and join one.

Before, I would not have dreamt of doing this, because there was the ruling party and the opposition parties were just there for the country's image, so that the government could say we were democratic.

Step by step

I don't know what kind of job I will have.

But I am not worried I will be unemployed, I think I will always find a job.

Tunisian people have gained a lot of confidence.

Many of us did not believe this was possible until it happened.

Now every politician who wants to be in government will think twice about it, because he will know that people are not passive anymore and will not accept old ideologies and ideas.

Now we are thinking and making decisions.

I am not satisfied with the composition of the new government. But we don't have a choice.

We are living in a transition period.

We cannot change overnight, we have to go forward step by step."