Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mohammed Bouazizi, who started the Arab Spring one year ago, honored in his birthplace Sidi Bouzid

Festivities in Sidi Bouzid (TAP)

(Updated) On Saturday 17 December, it was exactly one year ago that Mohammed Bouazizi, 26, a fruit seller from Sidid Bouzid in Tunisia, set fire to himself. He thereby started the uprisings in the Arab world that people later on started to refer to as 'The Arab Spring' (Tunisians prefer the name Ýasmine Revolution'). It seemed a good moment to honor this man who gave the sign for revolutions in several countries of the Arab world, not least his own, where recently the first elected parliament, president and government were installed.
In Bouazizi's city Sidi Bouzid festivities were held that lasted the whole weekend, with the paticipation of several pesonalities like Nobel Prize winner Tawakkol Karmon from Yemen. The newly elected president Moncef Marzouki unveiled a monument for Mohamed Bouazizi, representing his fruit cart.
The new - unfortunately rather ugly - monument for Mohammed Bouazizi. (AFP).

"Sidi Bouzid, that suffered from being marginalised, has the Tunisians given back their dignity,''  president Marzouki said in his speech. ''Now we have taken it upon ourselves to return to these regions their 'joie de vivre'. The president was referring to the economical situation, which has become worse after the revolution, as it has chased away tourists and investors.The past weeks there has been unrest in several places, among them Sidi Bouzid itself, because of the unemployment rate, which, according to the Tunisian Central bank, has gone up since the revolution from 13% to 18,3%.

Three times Mohammed Bouazizi. Left: setting fire to himself, top right: in the hospital, where he was visited by Ben Ali, who was still president at the time, and where he later died. Below right: one of the few portraits that are known of him.    

Upon looking back on my blog, I dicoverd that I did not pick up the news right from the beginning. My first report about the uprising in Sidi Bouzid  - almost entirely based on what was reported by Tunisian bloggers - was on 25 December (which was still some three weeks earlier than the bulk of the 'official' media, though). Below the first picture of the protests in Sidi Bouzid itself 
that I put on this blog.  By then the unrest was already spreading to the rst of Tunisia. One of the impressive events of these first weeks was the country wide protest of the lawyers at the end of December. One of the videos of the event - singing lawyers in Sfax - which I put on my blog, is resposted below.

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