A man whose selfless act unleashed the wrath of those tired of the centuries of tyranny and injustice

The responsibility for the willing martyrs in the uprisings for democracy in the Arab lands and the crumbling regimes and toppling presidents ultimately stem from one man, Mohamed Bouazizi. This young Tunisian was harassed and humiliated by the Tunisian police for more than a decade for nothing more serious than the illegal street trade of fruit and vegetables from a barrow in his town. His story has, within the six weeks since his death on January 4th, attained an almost fable-like status, seeming like a modern day version of ‘David and Goliath’.

Having had his produce and his scales confiscated on December 17 last year by spiteful local police, Bouazizi went to find his local Councillor to complain about his unjust and shameful treatment. When fobbed off with a lie about the availability of the official he was seeking, he went and bought a container of white spirit and set himself alight outside the council offices. It took this proud young man almost three weeks to die, but in that time the outrage and contempt that was felt for the unjust authority that pushed him to this tragic end caused the uprising and revolution in Tunisia that has now swept the Arab world, leaving Presidents and Kings fearing for their future and sending many to flee their luxurious palaces; all ultimately paying the price for the inhumanity of their arrogant autocracy.

All of these despicable despots were dealt a crushing blow by a Tunisian street vendor of fruit and vegetables. I would like to think that streets and buildings will be named after this brave man, whose significance lay in the fact that he was always thought of as insignificant. Please remember him. This world needs more people like Mohammed Bouazizi.

Henry Page


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