The biggest world-changing event of 2011 began when Mohammed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor, set himself on fire in protest of the confiscation of his goods and the harassment and humiliation he went through from the officers and aides.
A catalyst for revolution in Tunisia his actions lead to the resigning of the president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on January 14th 2011.
The revolution and protest inspired several other Arab countries and several non-Arab countries to protest against the high unemployment, flood-inflations, corruption, lack of freedom of speech, poor living conditions and other political freedoms.
Anonymous disabled several Tunisian government websites including those for the president, prime minister, ministry of industry, ministry of foreign affairs, and the stock exchange.
The attack took place on the 18th day of protest along with a national strike that came on the day of students returning to schools.
This was the message left on www.pm.gov.tn the prime ministers website
Operation Tunisia came and in a statement posted on the prime minister’s website but later removed, the group said that it was “enraged” at the Tunisian government’s behaviour; Ben Ali’s administration had “unilaterally declared war on free speech, democracy, and even its own people”.
“Anonymous is willing to help the Tunisian people in this fight against oppression,” the statement said. “Cyber attacks will persist until the Tunisian government respects all Tunisian citizens’ right to free speech and information and ceases the censoring of the internet”.
Using a ‘denial-of-service’ attack organized on an online chat room, Anonymous became the first international group to target Tunisian website.
This attack inspired more activists to help and support the Tunisian people and to retaliate to the censorship happening.
Lina Ben Mhenni; a Tunisian blogger was one activist who bought attention to the government’s retaliation and crack down on activism by telling Al Jazzera “The government has cracked down on activists by hacking our emails, facebook and blogs. They have deleted a few pages in which I was writing about the public protests.”
Web activists and journalists alerted others of the alleged hacking by the government via Twitter, which is not susceptible like Facebook and Google was.
A 2008 diplomatic cable from whistle-blower’s wikileaks, revealed corruption in the Tunisian government which described both low-level and high-level corruption that scared away investors, signed by the US ambassador, Robert Godec.
“The goal, amongst others, is to delete the Facebook pages which these people administer,” a Tunisian internet professional, who has also been in contact with Anonymous, told Al Jazeera in an emailed interview.
Anonymous did confirm that their own website was subject to its own ‘denial of service’ attacks during the Operation.
Anonymous also managed to reveal the names and passwords of the email addresses of other middle-eastern government officials in support of the Arab spring. Countries targeted included Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco.
Anonymous became an international authority against censorship after this operation, not only by showing support but for also helping to get awareness to the western countries, whose media seemed reluctant at the start to report on the subject.
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