Observer profiles: Meet Lina Ben M’henni

Our Observer in Tunisia, Lina ben M'henni.
Our Observer in Tunisia, Lina ben M'henni.

The France 24 Observers will celebrate its tenth anniversary in December. In this series, we are introducing our readers to different Observers we’ve worked with over the years. In the fourth of our series of profiles, we meet Lina Ben M’henni, the blogger behind ‘A Tunisian Girl’. She was on the ground during the Arab Spring, the revolution that changed the Middle East, and tells us how her country has changed in the years since.

We started working with Lina Ben M’henni in 2010, first talking to her for a story about beaches in Tunis and how they had become dumping grounds for rubbish.

At the end of 2010, she was the first person we spoke to about the wave of demonstrations against the repressive rule of Tunisian president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

“This type of protest is extremely rare,” she told us. The demonstrations were in response to the self-immolation of local street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi after he was publicly humiliated by the police. The riots ended up causing Ben Ali’s fall from power on January 14, 2011, and started off the wave of protests in other Arabic-speaking countries like Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya and Syria – a transnational uprising that became known as the Arab Spring.

Lina Ben M’henni worked with the FRANCE 24 Observers team on other occasions: telling us about how a year after the revolution, those wounded during the protests still hadn’t received the compensation promised by Ennahda, the political party that came to power in the first elections after Ben Ali was deposed. And in 2017, they are still fighting to receive what was promised them.

Recently, Lina has been working on an entirely new, laudable initiative: giving out books in prisons, which is her way of fighting against the hardline Islamism in her country.

In our weekly show, she looks back on the seven years she has been an Observer with us.