Image: Tunisians wait to vote in Menzeh
Amine Landoulsi  /  AP
Voters stand in line near a polling station in Menzeh, Tunisia, on Sunday.
updated 10/24/2011 12:13:48 AM ET 2011-10-24T04:13:48

The people who started the Arab Spring shared one of its earliest fruits on Sunday: a free election. Tunisians who brought down a dictator nine months ago waited for hours to select those who will help shape their fledgling democracy.

"The old elections were fraudulent and this one is for our children and grandchildren so that even if I soon die, I will be happy and content," said Tayyib Awish, resplendent in a crisp white robe and skull cap at a crowded school-cum-polling station in the working class suburb of Hay al-Tadammon near Tunis, the capital.

The spry 83-year-old voted many times for Tunisia's first two presidents in contests whose results were always known ahead of time, but this time was different. "This is a celebration," he said, gesturing with a finger stained blue by polling station ink.

How rap fueled the Arab Spring uprisings

Women with headscarves and without, former political prisoners and young people whose Facebook posts helped fuel the revolution also were among those electing a 217-seat assembly that will appoint a new government and then write a new constitution.

It was the first truly free election in the history of Tunisia, which was under the control of President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali for 23 years. Ben Ali was overthrown Jan. 14 by a monthlong uprising, sparked by a fruitseller who set himself on fire in protest of police harassment, then stirred by anger over unemployment, corruption and repression.

The uprising inspired similar rebellions across the Arab world. The autocratic rulers of Egypt and Libya have fallen since, but Tunisia is the first country to hold free elections as a result of the upheaval. Egypt's parliamentary election is set for next month.

President Barack Obama offered congratulations, saying that "less than a year after they inspired the world, the Tunisian people took an important step forward."

The party expected to come out on top is the moderate Islamic movement Ennahda, or renaissance, though no one party is expected to win a majority of assembly seats. An Ennahda victory, especially in a comparatively secular society like Tunisia, could have wide implications for similar religious parties in the region.

Preliminary reports indicate voting went smoothly, with up to 70 percent of registered voters turning up at polling stations. Results might not come until Monday or Tuesday.

Story: In his last days, Gadhafi wearied of fugitive’s life

People waited in line for hours to vote under the strong North African sun.

"Even if I have to stand in line 24 hours, I would not give up the chance to savor this air of freedom," said former political prisoner Touhami Sakouhi, also voting in Hay al-Tadammon.

In the more affluent Tunis suburb of al-Aouina, 18-year-old language student and former protester Zeinab Souayah said, "I'm going to grow up and think back on these days and tell my children about them."

"It feels great, it's awesome," she added, in English.

Ben Ali's regime was among the Middle East's most corrupt and repressive, and his long-calm country was shocked by the self-immolations at the start of the uprising and the ensuing outbursts of pent-up anger. As protests spread across Tunisia, the police crackdown left more than 300 dead.

Image: Voters wait at polling station in Tunis
Jamal Saidi  /  Reuters
Voters stand in line at a polling station in Tunis on Sunday. About 4.4 million people have registered to cast ballots.

Protests have simmered in the months since, periodically ending in violence, but Tunisia's interim authorities have generally managed to contain the unrest — and keep the months of war in neighboring Libya from spilling over their common border.

The atmosphere on this extraordinary voting day was electric with excitement, but to the relief of many, not violent. Kamel Jendoubi, the head of the election commission, said there were only some scattered election violations, such as campaigning near polling stations or trying to influence voters. Some parties had received warnings, but he did not name them.

The ballot was an extra-large piece of paper bearing the names and symbols of the parties fielding a candidate in each district. The symbols are meant to aid the illiterate, estimated at about 25 percent of the population in a country with one of the region's most educated populations.

Voters in each of the country's 33 districts, six of which are abroad, had roughly 40 to 80 ballot choices. It was a cacophony of options in a country effectively under one-party rule since independence from France in 1956.

Retired engineer Bahri Mohamed Lebid, 73, said he voted "for my religion," a sentiment common among supporters of the Ennahda movement. He said he last tried to vote in 1974, when polling officers forced him to cast a ballot for the ruling party despite his objections.

Ennahda believes that Islam should be the reference point for the country's system and laws and believes that democracy is the best system to maintain people's rights. It has also said it supports Tunisia's liberal laws promoting women's equality — making it much more progressive than other Islamic movements in the Middle East.

Interactive: Tunisia protests, country profile (on this page)

Some voters expressed concern that despite its moderate public line, Ennahda could reverse some of Tunisia's progressive legislation for women if it gains power.

"I am looking for someone to protect the place of women in Tunisia," said 34-year-old Amina Helmi, her hair free of the headscarves that some Tunisian women wear. She said she was "afraid" of Ennahda and voted for the center-left PDP party, the strongest legal opposition movement under Ben Ali.

There are 7.5 million potential voters, though only 4.4 million of them, or just under 60 percent, are actually registered. People can vote with their identity cards but only at certain stations, which caused some confusion.

Mogadi Shukri, 43, a day laborer, said that since he hadn't registered he had to go to a far-away station to vote. "I feeling like am missing out," he said sadly.

A proportional representation system will likely mean that no political party will dominate the assembly, which is expected to be divided roughly among centrist parties, leftist parties and Ennahda. They will need to form coalitions and make compromises to create a constitution.

According to the international election commission running the elections, there were more than 14,000 local and international observers watching polling stations, including delegations from the European Union and the Carter Center.

Many have expressed indifference about the elections out of frustration that life has not improved since the revolution. Tunisia's economy and employment, part of the reason for the revolution in the first place, has only gotten worse since Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia because tourists and foreign investors have stayed away.

Outside the school-turned-polling station in Hay al-Tadammon, a group of young men sat on the street, sipping tea and mocking journalists who were talking to people who had just voted.

Belhussein al-Maliki, 27, said he fought in the January uprising, which engulfed this downtrodden suburb, and lost a relative in the fighting.

"We are jobless, we have nothing and we won't vote," he said bitterly. "Everything is the same, the world is the way it is, and the world will stay the way it is."

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Protests drive Tunisian president into exile

  1. Closed captioning of: Protests drive Tunisian president into exile

    >>> nation of tunisia , a close ally of the u.s. tonight, after violent pro-tests that have lasted for weeks, the tunisian government has fallen. some are calling this the first wikileaks revolution. nbc's michelle kaczynski is monitoring the developments for us from our london bureau . michelle ?

    >> reporter: what we've witnessed tonight is a revolution in north africa . the scenes in the streets of the capital, tunis, have been extraordinarily, openly violent, relentless. police used live bullets on crowds of thousands. according to official reports, two dozen protestors have been killed since demonstrations began last month. but they've also been successful.

    >> we don't want food. we don't want jobs. we want him out.

    >> reporter: tonight, the prime minister announced that the president has relinquished power to him and fled the country. just yesterday, ben ali tried to quell the fury caused by high food prices by offering sweeping reforms. but all too late. in this u.s. friendly islamic country , with a long history of combatting terror, supporting education and women's rights, a stunning downfall.

    >> extraordinary. absolutely extraordinary to watch. it was an extraordinary moment in middle eastern history .

    >> reporter: around the same time this started, wikileaks released american diplomatic cables describe thing troubled state, highlights deep corruption. just as in iran, twitter and youtube opened the world's eyes to unrest. the foreign policy blog asks, is this the first wikileaks revolution? probably well overstating it, but here again, freedom of expression found those virtual rivers to flow through.

    >> there was so much that was coming out of tunisia via twitter. the revolution has been twitterized.

    >> reporter: all watch now around the global and tunisia 's tense neighbors especially. tonight, president obama condemned the use of force against the protestors and called on tunisia to truly reform human rights and its political process.

    >> michelle kaczynski in london tonight ,

Photos: State of emergency

loading photos...
  1. A Tunisian soldier talks with a woman during the sanitary service clean out in the Kasbah district after Tunisian inhabitants of Sidi Bouzid and protesters were evacuated following clashes with security forces in front of the government palace on Saturday, Jan. 29 in Tunis. Riot police and hundreds of protesters clashed in the Tunisian capital on January 28, 2011, as a new cabinet was sworn into office in a bid to end the unrest that has followed president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's ouster. Security forces fired warning shots and tear gas, as some groups threw stones in the main government quarter where protesters have remained camped out in front of Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi's offices for five days. (Fethi Belaid / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Tunisian sanitary service workers clean out a street in the Kasbah district on Jan. 29. (Fethi Belaid / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Tunisian protesters run away during clashes with riot police outside the prime minister's office in Tunis on Friday, Jan. 28. Tunisian security forces chased groups of protesters through central Tunis after dispersing hundreds of rural demonstrators holding a 24-hour sit-in outside government offices. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Tunisian riot police use their shields for cover during clashes with demonstrators after they stormed a protest camp outside the prime minister's office in Tunis on Jan. 28. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. A man reads a newspaper with a story about the new ministers that have been put in the Tunisian government, at a street kiosk in downtown Tunis on Jan. 28. The Tunisian government ditched loyalists to its ousted president on Thursday -- a move which won backing from the powerful labor union and could help defuse protests. (Louafi Larbi / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Tunisian students are blocked by security forces as they demonstrate in front of the Justice ministry in Tunis on January 27. Thousands took to the streets of Tunisia to call for old regime politicians to be ousted after the fall of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, as the cabinet prepared a reshuffle. (Fethi Belaid / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Tunisian protesters pull away barbed wire to let through the protesters on the other side of the police barricade near government offices in the Kasbah, the old city of Tunis, Jan. 27. Police blocked several roads leading up to the Kasbah in the Tunisian capital Tunis on Jan. 27 after a day of violent clashes on Jan. 26 between demonstrators and security forces who fired tear gas and left several people injured. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. A protester from Tunisia's marginalised rural heartlands chants slogans during a demonstration outside the prime minister's office in Tunis, Jan. 27. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Protesters help municipality workers clear up piles of rubbish on the streets left behind by fellow protesters who spent the night outside the prime minister's office in the Kasbah, the old city of Tunis Jan. 27. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Policemen try to calm down a pro-government protester as he shouts towards anti-government protesters during a demonstration in central Tunis on Tuesday, Jan. 25. Hundreds of Tunisians rallied on Tuesday in support of the interim government formed after the ousting of president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, but later clashed with protesters demanding a purge of former regime loyalists. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A man cuts himself with scissors as he protests outside the once feared Tunisian Interior Ministry. The man was placated by citizens and suffered no serious injuries on Jan. 25, in Tunis, Tunisia. (Christopher Furlong / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. A boy hangs from the door as he shouts slogans during an anti-government demonstration in central Tunis on Jan. 25. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Inhabitants of the central Tunisia region of Sidi Bouzid chant slogans during a demonstration in front of the Government palace in Tunis on Jan. 23. The protesters came from a poverty-stricken rural region where the crackdown against protesters in the final days of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's 23-year regime was at its harshest. (Fethi Belaid / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. Protesters who marched from the rural areas of Tunisia as part as the 'Liberation Caravan' take a rest outside the prime minister's office on Jan. 23, in Tunis, Tunisia. (Christopher Furlong / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Tunisians light candles during a nighttime vigil in downtown Tunis, Jan. 22. Protesters in Tunisia, emboldened by their overthrow of the president a week ago, took to the streets Saturday to try and force out his lieutenants, whom they accuse of clinging to power in the face of popular anger. (Finbarr O'Reilly / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Tunisian soldiers stand guard near the Prime Minister's office during a demonstration in Tunis, Jan. 22. Tunisia's interim prime minister promised to quit politics after the elections, a pledge intended to appease protesters demanding remnants of the old guard leave a unity coalition formed after the overthrow of the president. (Finbarr O'Reilly / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Police officers celebrate as they demonstrate in Tunis, Saturday, Jan. 22. Tunisia's once-feared police who carried out the repressive policies of their now exiled president are joining hands with protesters who brought down the dictator. (Christophe Ena / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. A protester gestures in front of the headquarters of the Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) party of ousted president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali during a demonstration in downtown Tunis on Jan. 20, 2011. (Finbarr O'Reilly / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  19. People demonstrate on Jan. 20 in Tunis against the former president's Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) in a new wave of anger about the presence of RCD stalwarts in the transitional government. (Martin Bureau / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  20. Protesters kiss and embrace soldiers during a demonstration in Tunis on Jan. 20. Some observers have said that the army's restraint has helped to keep protests from escalating. (Martin Bureau / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  21. Interim President Fouad Mebazaa (fifth from right) and Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi (bottom left) attend the first session of the newly appointed transitional cabinet on Jan. 20 at the government palace in Tunis. (Fethi Belaid / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  22. A soldier pushes back a protester as he shows that he is unarmed during a demonstration in front of the headquarters of the Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) party on Jan. 20. Police fired shots into the air to try to disperse hundreds of protesters demanding that ministers associated with the ousted president leave the government. (Finbarr O'Reilly / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  23. Family of Mohamed Bouazizi pray and mourn at his grave in the Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid on Wednesday, Jan. 19. Bouazizi, a vegetable salesman, set himself on fire on Dec. 17, igniting protests that forced ex-president Zine al-Abdine Ben Ali to flee the country. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  24. A man looks at inscriptions written on the walls in the scorched and looted home belonging to the nephew of ousted Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Hammamet, southeast of Tunis on Jan. 19. (Martin Bureau / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  25. Protesters carry a coffin symbolizing the death of the Constitutional Democratic Rally party of ousted president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali during a demonstration in downtown Tunis on Jan. 19. Hundreds of protesters demonstrated in the Tunisian capital on Wednesday to demand the dismissal from the new coalition government of ministers associated with ousted president Ben Ali. (Finbarr O'Reilly / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  26. A woman reacts during a demonstration against the Constitutional Democratic Rally party of deposed President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in central Tunis on Jan. 19. (Thibault Camus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  27. A protestor throws back tear gas at the police during clashes after a demonstration against the Constitutional Democratic Rally, RCD, party of Ben Ali in the center of Tunis on Tuesday, Jan. 18. Four ministers quit Tunisia's day-old government on Tuesday, undermining its hopes of quelling unrest by sharing power with members of the opposition to the old regime. Clashes broke out in central Tunis around the time the resignations were announced, as police fought off protesters demanding that the new cabinet be purged of the old guard that served Ben Ali. (Christophe Ena / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  28. Protestors hold bread as they face riot police officers during a demonstration against the Constitutional Democratic Rally, RCD, party of Ben Ali in the center of Tunis, on Jan. 18. 2011. Four ministers quit Tunisia's day-old government on Tuesday, undermining its hopes of quelling unrest by sharing power with members of the opposition to the old regime. Clashes broke out in central Tunis around the time the resignations were announced, as police fought off protesters demanding that the new cabinet be purged of the old guard that served Ben Ali. (Christophe Ena / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  29. A man lies injuried during a demonstration in Tunis on Jan.18. Riot police fired tear gas and clashed with protesters on January 18 at a small protest rally against Tunisia's new government in the centre of the capital, AFP reporters on the ground saw. Around 100 protesters chanted slogans against the RCD party of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. "We can live on bread and water alone but not with the RCD," they said. Riot police dispersed the rally -- one of several expected. (Fred Dufour / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  30. Tunisian opposition figure Moncef Markouzi celebrates is he is welcomed by supporters, after arriving at the international airport of Tunis on Jan. 18, 2010. Tunisia's day-old government was shaken by the resignation of four ministers on Tuesday, undermining its hopes of quelling simmering unrest by sharing power with members of the opposition to the old regime. (Thibault Camus / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  31. A demonstrator reacts as security forces use water canons to disperse protesters downtown Tunis on Monday, Jan. 17. Police disperesed crowds after demonstrators took to the streets demanding that the ruling party of the ousted president give up power. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  32. People demonstrate in central Tunis on Jan. 17. Tunisian protesters called for the abolition of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's ruling party amid a chaotic power vacuum as politicians prepared a government of national unity. Hundreds of people rallied in Tunis and there were similar protests in Sidi Bouzid and Regueb in central Tunisia - two towns at the heart of the movement that forced Ben Ali to resign and flee on Friday after 23 years in power. (Fred Dufour / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  33. A demonstrator argues with a policeman during a protest in central Tunis on Jan. 17. Hundreds rallied in central Tunis on Monday to demand the abolition of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's ruling party. Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi was a close ally of Ben Ali and held talks with opposition parties on Sunday to form a national unity government. (Fred Dufour / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  34. Police beat a demonstrator in central Tunis on Jan. 17. (Fred Dufour / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  35. Tunisian Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi, left, speaks with Tunisian interim President Foued Mbazaa upon his arrival at the Prime Ministry at the Casbah, in Tunis, Tunisia, on Jan 17. The army continued to patrol the streets as the country awaited the formation of a new national unity government. Tanks were still being deployed on the main avenue in Tunis and army helicopters flew over the city as the administration of interim President Foued Mabazaa sought to stamp out the lawlessness that took hold after longtime leader Zine el-Abidine ben Ali abruptly left power on Jan. 14. (EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  36. Protestors greet soldiers during a demonstration against former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in the center of Tunis on Jan. 17. Helicopters circled overhead as police used tear gas to break up a demonstration on the main avenue in central Tunis. (Christophe Ena / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  37. People view the ransacked home of Kaif Ben Ali, nephew of former President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, in the Mediterranean resort of Hammamet, about 40 milesfrom the capital on Sunday, Jan. 16. Several hundred people filed through the home of Kaif Ben Ali, taking photographs, picking up plants as souvenirs and stripping out plumbing fixtures, two days after the president was ousted. The home was also set ablaze, according to witnesses. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  38. A woman tries to convince army soldiers to allow her to cross a street in Tunis on Saturday, Jan. 15. Hundreds of soldiers patrolled the streets of the Tunisian capital on Saturday where the prime minister was met opposition parties in an attempt to form a coalition after protests swept the president from power. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  39. Workers clean a train station dammaged overnight, on Jan. 15 in Tunis. Looting took place overnight in the suburbs of Tunis, witnesses said. (Fred Dufour / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  40. A protester hits a policeman during clashes with riot police in downtown Tunis on Friday, Jan. 14. Tunisian President Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali stepped aside on Friday after failing to quell the worst anti-government unrest in his two decades in power. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  41. Protesters carry an unconscious woman during clashes with riot police in the downtown of the capital Tunis on Jan. 14. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  42. Women run during clashes with riot police in downtown Tunis, Jan. 14. Tunisian President Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali declared a state of emergency on Friday and warned that protesters would be shot in an increasingly frantic effort to quell the worst unrest in his two decades in power. (Zohra Bensemra / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  43. Tunisian Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi, center, addresses the nation on state television Friday. He said that he had taken over as interim president after Zine El Abidine Ben Ali had left the country. (Channel 7 / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  44. A column of smoke rises from buildings during clashes in Tunis on Friday. (Christophe Ena / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  45. Plain clothed police and riot police officers clash with demonstrators in Tunis. Tunisia's president left the country as gunfire echoed in the North African country's usually calm capital. (Christophe Ena / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  46. Demonstrators gather in front of the interior ministry in Tunis on Friday demanding President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali resign. Thousands of angry demonstrators marched through Tunisia's capital a day after the country's autocratic leader appeared on TV to try to stop deadly riots that have swept the North African nation. (Fethi Belaid / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  47. "No to Ben Ali, the uprising continues," hundreds shouted in a march down the main boulevard in central Tunis. (Christophe Ena / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  48. A demonstrator throws a stone at police during clashes in Tunis on Friday. (Christophe Ena / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  49. Riot police officers detain a protestor during clashes in Tunis on Friday. (Christophe Ena / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  50. Protesters chant slogans against President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunis on Friday. (Christophe Ena / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  51. General secretary of the opposition Progressive Democratic party (PDP) Maya Jeridi, center, shouts slogans in front the Interior ministry in Habib Bourguiba avenue in Tunis on Friday. (Fethi Belaid / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  52. People wait in front of the departure gate at the airport in Tunis on Friday. The army took control of the main international Tunis Carthage airport on January 14 and the country's airspace was shut down, an airport source told AFP, as weeks of unrest escalated. (Fred Dufour / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  53. President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali addresses the nation on Thursday. Ben Ali, facing a wave of violent unrest, said he would not change the constitution to allow him to run again when his term expires in 2014. (Handout via Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  54. Supporters of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali demonstrate in Tunis on Thursday night. (Christophe Ena / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  55. Rescue workers evacuate unidentified victims of violence on stretchers in Tunis on Thursday. (Hedi Ben Salem / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  56. Newly appointed interior minister Ahmed Friaa attends an extraordinary session at the Chamber of Deputies in Tunis on Thursday. (Fethi Belaid / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  57. Tunisian security forces face demonstrators during clashes on Monday in Regueb, near Sidi Bouzid. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  58. A demonstrator injured in clashes with security forces on Sunday in Regueb, near Sidi Bouzid. Protests sparked by high youth unemployment spread from the central town of Sidi Bouzid to other parts of the country. (EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  59. A child holds a sign asking for the release of people kept in custody by police following recent protests, during a demonstration in Tunis on Jan. 8. (Hassene Dridi / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  60. Lawyer Abderrahman Ayedi takes off his shirt during a meeting in Tunis on Dec. 29 to show to human rights activist and lawyer Radhia, second from right, marks on his body. He said that he had been subjected to torture the previos day after he was arrested by police. (Fethi Belaid / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  61. President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, second from left, meets patient Mohamed Bouazizi during a visit at the Ben Arous hospital near Tunis on Dec. 28. Bouazizi, a 26-year-old university graduate, had set himself on fire in a protest over unemployment, sparking a wave of unrest and clashes. (Handout via AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  1. Image: A Tunisian soldier talks with a woman du
    Fethi Belaid / AFP - Getty Images
    Above: Slideshow (61) State of emergency in Tunisia - State of emergency
  2. Image: Yemenis attend a protest calling Preside
    Mohammad Huwais / AFP - Getty Images
    Slideshow (11) State of emergency in Tunisia - World reaction
  3. Image: Yemenis attend a protest calling Preside
    Mohammad Huwais / AFP - Getty Images
    Slideshow (11) World reaction to Tunisian unrest - World reaction
  4. Image: A Tunisian soldier talks with a woman du
    Fethi Belaid / AFP - Getty Images
    Slideshow (61) World reaction to Tunisian unrest - State of emergency

Interactive: Tunisia protests, country profile

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments