Tunisian uprising's birthplace sees more protests
15 August 2012
The National - AFP - SIDI BOUZID, TUNISIA - Hundreds of protesters demonstrated against Tunisia's Islamist ruling party during a general strike yesterday here in the hub of the 2011 uprising
Offices and shops were shut in the town centre, although some butchers stayed open to allow customers to prepare for iftar.
Tunisia's main union, the UGTT, had called the strike in Sidi Bouzid to put pressure on the government to release detained activists, and to develop the marginalised region.
Samir Dilou, the government spokesman, said the strike was unjustified, and criticised the opposition for exploiting legitimate social grievances.
Mr Dilou acknowledged that "difficult living conditions in certain regions" are provoking people to take to the streets and pledged that the government would address those hardships with "understanding".
The demonstrators denounced authorities for suppressing recent protests and urged them to free activists arrested last week during demonstrations that were dispersed by police firing tear gas and rubber bullets.
Separately, around 150 supporters of the Ennahda ruling party staged a rival protest in the town centre.
Tunisia's government has faced growing dissent in recent weeks.
On Monday thousands of people demonstrated in the capital Tunis for women's rights, in the biggest show of force by the opposition since April.