Tunisian poll marks new low for 'birdman' of 2011 uprising

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Nearly 12 years after his image went around the world as he freed a caged bird among protesters during Tunisia’s revolution, Wadii Jelassi has lost the political ideals that inspired him to rise above the crowd.

His country holds a parliamentary election on Saturday. But the new legislature will be largely powerless and, after years of political disappointment and a slide away from democracy, Jelassi will not vote.

“I feel more suffocated in my country. There is no clear future for me or my family and friends from the neighbourhood,” he told Reuters.

“I don’t feel free and I can’t write freely on social media. It is very worrying.”

Lost illusions


Jelassi’s journey, from the uprising against one-man rule to a vote that takes place on the anniversary of the revolution’s inciting incident, mirrors the lost illusions of a generation that fought for democracy but saw it slip away.

Tunisia’s revolution began when vegetable seller Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire after a dispute with police on December 17, 2010, triggering protests that erupted into a nationwide uprising.

As huge crowds filled Tunis in January 2011 and autocrat Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali fled the country, Jelassi was photographed in the crowd holding aloft a cage with the Tunisian flag tied to it and opening the door to release a dove.

Jay Ndungu

Jay is a computer scientist and journalist with a passion for the intersection of technology and society. He has a background in computer science, developing a deep understanding of the technical aspects of the industry, including programming languages and software development methodologies. Currently, He writes for Nairobi Times, covering a wide range of topics including technology, politics, sports, and entertainment. With his unique combination of technical knowledge and journalistic experience, Jay brings a unique perspective to the stories he covers, able to explain complex technical concepts in an easy-to-understand manner. His work is dedicated to bridge the gap between technology and society, and to make people more aware of the potential of technology to make the world a better place.

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