Police have stepped up security in Tunisia’s capital amid angry protests against the government.
The demonstrations mark three years since a young street vendor set himself on fire in city of Sidi Bouzid leading to revolutions across the Arab world.
The militant Ansar al-Shariah movement, which has links to al-Qaida and is believed to have organised an attack on the US embassy in Tunisia, called for protests at government headquarters.
Police filled key intersections and checked cars entering the city. Protesters denounced the media and counter-revolutionaries.
Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki appealed for calm but stayed away from Sidi Bouzid himself because it was considered too dangerous for him to attend.
Speaking in Tunis he said: “Today we have an opportunity to stop and ask ourselves whether we should protest over what has not been achieved or celebrate what has been achieved, and where we stand today and where are we heading to. Dear citizens, in order to be impartial, we need to acknowledge that we have achieved many things.”
Like Bouazizi’s act that aimed to “attract attention to the economic hardship and repression” in the country, Tunisians rallied with a similar message.
“Tuesday is a day of rage and protests against the policies of the government which did not keep to its word and betrayed the promises of the revolution,” said activist Youssef Jlili.
The protestors have also said that their demonstration is a tribute to the two opposition politicians who were murdered earlier this year by Islamists. The deaths of the politicians have since launched the country into a political deadlock with many Tunisians calling for the ousting of the current government.
Three years on, unemployment in Tunisia remains stuck at 15 percent, with that figure rising to 24.4 percent, the nation’s highest, in the Sidi Bouzid region, home to nearly half a million people.