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Protests Escalate In Tunisia As President Promises Changes

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

Hi, Eleanor.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY: Hello, Steve.

INSKEEP: What have you seen on the streets in the last few hours?

BEARDSLEY: Right under my window the police beat some protesters with truncheons. I saw it. And now a state of emergency has been declared and it's a frightening situation. It seems to be getting worse and worse.

INSKEEP: What started all this?

BEARDSLEY: So that just set it off.

INSKEEP: We've just got a few seconds here, but isn't this government that's now under pressure - this president, who is under pressure to leave office - an ally of the United States?

BEARDSLEY: Absolutely. Because I guess, you know, he was seen as a bulwark against the Islamist insurgents. So we saw it like that. But the people today say please support us, people, we are not Islamist radicals, we just want a real democracy. And they're asking the West to support the people and no longer this corrupt leader.

INSKEEP: Eleanor Beardsley, thanks for your work throughout the morning. Thank you very much.

BEARDSLEY: Good to talk with you, Steve.

INSKEEP: That's Eleanor Beardsley in Tunis, Tunisia, where there are continuing protests against the long-serving president there. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.