Tunis: Tunisian street vendors often complain about official harassment, but turning from a sandwich maker to a social media star, he hopes the fight against bureaucracy will motivate young entrepreneurs. increase. 27-year-old Habib Hlila set up a food bun in Tunis’ working-class Bab El Khadra district in early April and sold sandwiches at the end of the first day of the holy Islamic Ramadan month. He soon became a food star in Tunisian food stalls and won social media by using bunters and plays to prepare his signature “El Bay” sandwiches and grills with his own special sauces.

Hlila began to draw a larger crowd than ever, as videos on social media helped spread his name. However, in late April, police detained Hlila and seized his truck because he did not have a driver’s license. The operation was captured by cameras and widely shared online, causing anger among Tunisians who often complain about the obstacles authorities place in front of small businesses and everyday life. Hlila rode a wave of public empathy and began appearing on television to talk about his experience.

The story depicts a comparison with Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street vendor who fired in 2010 after police harassment, defeated dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and caused the 2011 Arab Spring Uprising. Hlila compares despite having his own experience when Tunisia faced a serious economic situation and faced a political crisis that warned that some could return the country to a dictatorship. Reject.

Tunis: A woman is visible while her son eats one of the sandwiches made by Tunis street food vendor Habibu Elbay along Habibburgiva Avenue in the capital Tunis.

Stimulate unemployed youth

“I’m not Bouazizi, so I’ll never be desperate in response to a crisis,” he told AFP. “I have decided to succeed and be a source of motivation for young people.” He often turns his experience into a positive story and creates a successful business in the face of bureaucratic choking. He wants to inspire young Tunisians who find it impossible.

After a long struggle, he was finally able to get a license to organize cooking shows across Tunisia – then he recovered his van and resumed his sandwich business. Last Saturday, at the entrance to the Old Town of Tunis, he held a show on a brand new food truck worth over $ 20,000. He wore black clothes dotted with small Tunisian flags and held a courtroom for more than five hours in a meeting with his first customer after his arrest.

‘Success story’

“Bravo to this young man who kept going despite his disability,” 51-year-old Najiha Barrul told AFP when he lined up to buy a sandwich. “He’s a good example for young people who are just thinking about leaving the country. It’s a beautiful success story.” But not everyone is inspired. Unemployed 31-year-old Biller, who, like many young Tunisians, wants to leave for a better life in Europe, said, “I can get back to work because his case has caught the attention of the media. Yes, not. For other young people. “But Hlila said,” I want to prove to young people that if they make a decision, they can reach their goals. ” I want to tell them that despite the difficulties, they should never give up. “

Hlila’s interest in street food began in 2021 after helping a friend make sandwiches and was successful even without graduating from high school. Wheelbarrows and vans that sell fast food are common in the capital of Tunisia, but Hlila says the sector needs to be brought into the normal economy. This has the potential to create jobs and contribute to tourism. “I have a lot of ideas for developing projects that can inspire unemployed youth,” he said. – AFP

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