100 Most Powerful Arabs Under 40
Amira Yahyaoui

Amira Yahyaoui

Industry: Media

Designation: Activist, journalist

Country: Tunisia

Country of origin: @Mira404

Age: 30

A Tunisian-born human rights campaigner, Amira Yahyaoui was a brave, active and outspoken opponent of former president Zine Al Abidine Ben Ali’s regime.

Yahyaoui had her passport revoked for four years prior to the outbreak of the Arab Spring movement because she refused to be silenced. Her cousin, Zouhair, was jailed for publishing the satirical website TUNeZINE. He died in 2005 after being persecuted and tortured by the government for his objections to censorship in Tunisia.

Yahyaoui fled to France and became a student there while participating in criticism of the Tunisian regime. She was stateless for several years, but after the fall of president Ben Ali, she was able to gain a passport from the Tunisian embassy and returned to Tunisia.

Upon her return, she founded the NGO Al Bawsala (‘The Compass’ in Arabic), which monitors the National Constituent Assembly’s legislative work and tweets what assembly members are saying in parliament. Al Bawsala also acts as a political advocacy for the empowerment of elected politicians, the defence of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and provides support for the development of citizen initiatives.

The work of Al Bawsala has helped maintain a relationship of trust with elected officials and institutions, and thereby has strongly contributed to helping the latter avoid being rejected by the people of Tunisia. In 2014 she became a Meredith Greenberg Yale World Fellow and was awarded the conflict prevention prize by the Fondation Chirac.