This Los Angeles Times article by Borzou Daragahi states that the Tunisian Revolution was the culmination of tensions between the haves and have-nots in a nation where a brutal regime treated the people like serfs.
Reporting from Thala, Tunisia — Even in death they would not allow Marwan Jamli a moment's dignity. The same black-clad Interior Ministry troops who shot him in the chest and back a day earlier tear-gassed his grieving family members as they tried to carry his corpse to the cemetery.
The army soldiers watching the Jan. 9 melee in this town near the Algerian border could no longer bear it. They ordered the security forces aside, and allowed his parents to place their elder son in the earth. Some of the soldiers saluted the mourners.
Almost immediately, photographs of the 19-year-old protester's bloodied body began circulating on the Internet, along with amateur video of the killing of as many as a dozen people in Thala and two nearby towns as they protested against the authoritarian rule of President Zine el Abidine ben Ali.
Five days after the funeral, Ben Ali was swept away in an uprising that has sparked anti-government protests in Egypt and elsewhere across the Middle East and raised hopes for an "Arab Spring," like the wave of protests that toppled authoritarian Eastern European countries a generation ago.
But if the revolution stunned much of the world, to Tunisians and close observers it was not entirely a surprise. Tensions had been building for years between a brutal regime that treated its people like serfs and a mostly educated population in tune with the sensibilities and technologies of the 21st century.