Lina Ben Mhenni, a preeminent voice of the Jasmine Revolution, which ended the rule of Tunisia’s President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali after 24 years in office, died on Monday, January 27.
With her blog “A Tunisian Girl”, Mhenni documented the frustrations of everyday Tunisians during the start of the Arab Spring, defying attempts at censorship by Ben Ali’s government. She began her work in 2007 with her personal blog before joining up with a larger movement of Tunisian bloggers, pushing for rights like greater freedom of expression.
After the self-immolation of the fruit-stand vendor Mohamed Bouazizi on December 17, 2010, Mhenni was one of the first bloggers to visit the neighborhood where Bouazizi had lived, Sidi Bouzid, which became the birthplace of the Arab Spring in Tunisia.
She also used her platform to talk about her struggle with the chronic disease lupus, which led to her being hospitalized for several years of her life. Her experiences there brought her greater awareness of Tunisians’ struggles. She witnessed patients die due to a lack of proper medical equipment and personnel, while Ben Ali infamously spent extravagantly on himself and his close associates.
Mhenni is widely mourned, and was honored with a state funeral.