Are these really bread riots in Tunisia? Have prices really gone up so much?

RASHMEE ROSHAN LALL January 13, 2018

Tabouna, the Tunisian bread

You wouldn’t know it from the international media coverage but here’s the so-called price rise that’s supposedly bringing all these angry people onto the streets:

  • petrol has gone up by 50 millemes per litre. Just 50 millemes. To judge how expensive that is, consider the following: The Tunisian dinar is sub-divided into 1,000 millemes. One Tunisian dinar is less than 50 US cents (or more precisely 0.409 US dollars.) Ergo, the anger-inducing price rise of 50 millemes per litre of petrol is almost nothing. Earlier, petrol was 1750 millemes per litre; now, it’s 1800.
  • tabouna, Tunisia’s local bread is still 300 millemes a piece. Tabouna comes in great big circles – one 300-milleme bread would feed two moderately hungry people if paired with kafteji or a shakshuka. The bread, a staple in Tunisia, has many different, glorious tastes and flavours – wholewheat or white flour; sometimes with cracked coriander seeds mixed into the dough, other times with poppy seeds scattered over.
  • Oil, tomatoes, sugar are still the same price.

The price of televisions has gone up. But that can hardly be called a basic item, a necessity.

“I don’t understand the manifestations,” one young man told me on the streets of Tunis, using the French word for protests. He shook his head. “The gangs are out in force and this is not a good thing for Tunisia.”

The trades unions have their own logic, one that doesn’t bode well.