Monument to Mohammed Bouazizi's humble cart stands as a symbol of hope

A monument to Bouazizi's humble cart now stands as symbol of hope. Credit: ITV News

The town of Sidi Bouzid lies around four hours drive south of the Tunisian capital Tunis

Hanging from its post office is a huge image of its most famous son Mohammed Bouazizi.

In December 2010 the 26-year-old market trader set himself alight after a row with officials over permits and corruption.

He died a month later.

His actions began a wave of protests which in turn started the chain of events we now call the Arab Spring.

A monument to Bouazizi's humble cart now stands as symbol of hope. Credit: ITV News

One man's despair over corruption and repression turning into protests crossing borders toppling regimes.

Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria and others - the speed and scale of change beyond control - its consequences still being felt today.

Having witnessed those changes in many of those countries I've come to the place where the Arab Spring started for On Assignment.

A guard in Tunisia. Credit: ITV News

A monument to Bouazizi's humble cart now stands as symbol of hope.

Lawyer and activist Khaled Alwinia was one of the first to speak to the crowds who gathered in the wake of Bouazizi's actions.

Nearly five years on he has mixed views about what's been achieved.

"I think we have reaped the benefits of some of these freedoms – no more, no less. But poverty is still here. Inequality is still here. In fact poverty has got worse," he tells me.

On the other side of the road a homeless man sleeps in the shade with his few belongings trying to fend off the flies in the midday heat.

On the wall behind him the word freedom has been sprayed on in graffiti.

A few yards away I meet Walid Alafi who has a degree in accountancy but hasn't had a job in eight years.

He tells me that despite the poverty and unemployment Bouazizi is still a hero to people because he gave them a dream.

But with little hope of a future some are being attracted by extremist groups like so-called Islamic state.

Student Owssama Badi tells me he's seen nearly 30 of his friends head to fight in Syria.

"I know some people before the revolution they were my friends, I know them well, like you know your brother or family. They are attracted to these people. And they go to Syria. They're paid money, a lot of money, you know, and they go there," he said.

There are strong forces opposing Tunisia's democracy.

In March this year jihadists killed 22 people in Tunisia's National Bardo Museum.

In June 38 people - 30 of them Britons - were murdered in the Sousse beach massacre.

The Sousse attack was carried out by a Tunisian gunman trained by extremists in Libya.

The so-called Islamic State group said it carried out the atrocity. Seifeddine Rezgui, a 23-year-old student, was the gunman. His actions an illustration of the choices some here are making. But despite the tensions there is hope in Tunisia.

A Group of civil society organisations was awarded the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of their efforts.

While Tunisa's fledgling democracy has enjoyed free and fair elections in the years since the revolution its government admits there are many challenges.

Speaking to On Assignment minister of development, investment and international cooperation Yassine Brahim said: "Now this democracy is fragile. It's fragile because there is the social pressure that is here of course because the economy is not performing enough.

Nearly five years on from the Arab Spring Tunisia's story remains one of hope and fear.

At the graveyard on the outskirts of Sidi Bouzid lies Mohammed Bouazizi's resting place.

On his grave reads the inscription reads 'Here lies Mohammed Bouazizi - the Martyr.'

Watch 'On Assignment' on Tuesday at 10.40pm on ITV.