Mohamed Bouazizi on his anniversary: the death that changed a region
Two years ago, a street vendor in Tunisia had an argument with police officers, who then confiscated his only means of making a living: his cart of vegetables and scales.
Later that day, Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire in Sid Bouazid, an impoverished city in the North African country. His actions sparked the Arab world alight.
Bouazizi died on January 4, 2011. Just ten days later, the Tunisian regime fell and President Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia with his family.
On the anniversary of his self-immolation, new Tunisian president, Moncef Marzouki, Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali and constituent assembly chairman, Mustapha Ben Jaafar, are visiting the city which started the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ to pay homage to Bouazizi.
In the two-years since his tragic death, the entire region has changed, as protests spread across the region. Egypt saw the fall of their autocratic regime, headed up by President Mubarak.
Libya followed, disposing Gaddafi, in what became a much more violent conflict, with rebels having to take up arms to topple the “Great Leader of the Social Jamahiriya”. In Yemen, too, protestors took to the streets and suceeded in taking down the regime.
In Syria, peaceful protestors joined their Arab brothers and sisters in chanting “Ash-shaʻb yurīd isqāṭ al-nidhām” (The people want the downfall of the regime.” A chant that became symbolic of the Arab uprisings
However, Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad violently crushed the protests, leading to a civil war that has lasted 21 months and cost the lives of countless Syrians.
Today, as the great and the good from Tunisia gather in Sid Bouazid to remember Bouazizi, the region is almost unrecognizable, the old systems gone and fear lifted, but it still faces profound challenges to ensure success of the Arab Spring.
Bouazizi himself will never see the effects of his actions and the changes made but the region could not have done it without the spark to light those Springs in the first place.
Do you think Mohamed Bouazizi changed the region? Has the Arab Spring gone wrong since then? Tell us what you think below.