This is the name of the man whose death has ignited the flames of revolution in the Arab world.
His desperate act in setting himself alight revealed the frustrations of millions of other Tunisians, and tens of millions of other Arabs.
It should not have been like this. Like many other Arabs he was an educated man, going to university, obtaining a degree. In return for the hard work and sacrifices he had made in working for this education, he expected a reasonable job, a way to support his family. Instead, he joined the ranks of the unemployed Arab.
There are millions. Whilst the world fears the spread of radical ideologies in the Arab world, it is this oft-forgotten statistic which, if nothing is done about it, will be the harbinger of destruction for the region.
States like Yemen, with a median age of 18, and unemployment at 35%. Jordan, median age 22, unemployment 13.4% (officially). Libya, median age 24, unemployment 30%. These figures are the fuel that men like Bouazizi have been burning themselves with.
Bouazizi’s act inspired Tunisia to rise up, to no longer tolerate their corrupt regime. Within a month Ben Ali was gone, the first Arab people’s revolution since 1964. The Arab street, long in its slumber, had awoken.
The flame has become a fire in Egypt. This country, the de-facto leader of the Arab world, has seen the rule of one man, the modern day Pharoah, Hosni Mubarak, for 30 years. To put this into perspective, he is the third longest ruler of Egypt after Mohammed Ali Pasha, and Ramses II.
Drawing on the inspiration of Tunisia, the 25th of January was set as the date of the first mass protest, the first day of the revolution. The event was organised through Facebook, used by Arabs to discuss matters other than Sharon getting with Brad.
The wisdom that ‘Egypt is not Tunisia’ was quashed by the events of the following days. As I write, Egyptians are in their 7th day of a mass uprising. The hated security services have been forced off the streets, and protesters dance on the tanks that rumble through Cairo. Neighbourhoods are defending themselves against looters, many of whom are members of the security services, trying to scare Egyptians into giving up their fight. Instead, it is quite clear that Hosni Mubarak will be the one to receive the knockout blow.
The flames of the Arab revolution have spread even further. Yemen, Jordan, Sudan, and Algeria have all seen protests. People are simply not afraid anymore. The game is up. The mukhabarat spy agencies, the secret police, the army; none of these have intimidated the battered Arab individual who is fighting for his rights.
Growing up it was pointed out to me that it was the Arab psyche that was the reason for our poverty and tyrannical rule. The Arab needed to be ruled by a strongman, democracy would never work. The Arabs are too weak to rise up against the dictators that rule over them. All of this is wrong, and it is my generation who have proved it so.
It is Mohammed Bouazizi who sparked it off, and who is the first martyr of the Arab revolution, inshallah.
He died so that the Arabs could live.
Views expressed in articles are the author’s and do not represent Comment Middle East
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