Zied Kanoun

The Death of a Tunisian Innocent

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Like Zied Kanoun, many people used social media to call for more freedom of speech.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The story of how one Tunisian revolutionary became radicalized, disillusioned with politics in the Middle East after the Arab Spring, gives us a glimpse into the generation that freed Tunisia from its dictator.

  • Facts


    • The wave of protests and pro-democracy demonstrations across the Middle East and North Africa starting in December 2010 came to be known as the Arab Spring.
    • Protesters made extensive use of social media in their push to raise awareness of repression and Internet censorship.
    • Reportedly Tunisia sends the highest number of foreigners to fight for ISIS in Syria.
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My friend, Zied Kanoun, has died. Only 33 years old, he lost his life in the fight against the Syrian army.

Zied was a Tunisian revolutionary and a jihadist. Two years ago, he left his wife, Betty, and their baby to fight Syria’s dictator, Bashar al-Assad.

Unsure which side to join, Zied wandered about, trying out the Islamic State, al-Nusra (an al-Qaeda offshoot) and others.

“For more than two years, he searched for people in Syria who shared his convictions (whether they were wrong or right, only God knows what was in his heart),” Betty wrote to me. “But he never found what he was looking for.”

She added: “He drove a small truck transporting injured people to the border so they could be taken care of in Turkey. He even did a first-aid course for that. He used to drive all night – eventually he could have driven the route with his eyes closed, he knew every street.”

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