Authored by Restless:
Mohammad Bouazizi who set himself ablaze on 17th Dec 2010 wasn’t born with a silver spoon. His father passed away in 1987 when he was 3. At 10,he was left with no option but to start earning as street vendor to get his two-time morsels and support his dependent mother, uncle and his siblings. Since then he never said die either to the abject poverty that he got in heritage or to the imperious behavior of the local police. 26 years of life passed by but he never bemoaned his fate. Probably, he had no time to do that unlike his customers. He had recently borrowed a small sum of money with which he bought a cart and set it on the street. The local police could not help but to ask for the bribe on the grounds that he didn’t have the Vendor-Permit. Sources say that as per the Employment Exchange rule, you never need any permission to sell wares on roads. Bouazizi denied greasing the palms and was trying to defend for an offence he never did when a 45-year old female officer from the local Municipal Co-operation of the area assisted by two other females came merely to exacerbate the issue by smashing his cart on his face and threw his electronic machine away and put some objectionable remarks on his deceased father. He rushed to the Chief Secretary office and pleaded for justice. He was denied and insulted. He came back, soaked himself in gasoline and set aflame in wee hours of day in front of a Govt. Office building on 17th December 2010. He was then rushed to a nearby hospital and later shifted by the govt. to a town hospital where he slept forever on 4th Jan 2011.
It might seem strange but then this is a fact that exactly 10 days after this self-immolation of Bouazizi, on 14th Jan 2011, came the end of the seemingly unending 23-year despotic rule of the Tunisian President Abidine Ben Ali. I shall get back to you with highlights of the Tunisia and horoscope of the ousted president (stay tuned) who somehow managed to get shelter in Saudi Arabia after being denied a refuge by France. At the moment when I am writing this piece, parliamentary speaker Foued Mebazza is ruling the state as acting president for the interim government which is supposed to conduct the election within 60-days and establish a regular government.
Was that the climax of Bouazizi Case? Did it end up with Tunisia?
“Alas!! It ended up with Tunisia”, insinuates Washington in a way that catches unawares. This is a digital age. The age of IT and globalization where people stay tuned to developments across the world on a real-time basis. This incidence had taken the whole of world in general and the mighty EU, US and Islamist dictators in particular with a storm. Leave others, Tunisians themselves could never believe that what they have done in less than a month was something they wouldn’t have thought of even in the wildest of nightmares keeping in mind how they spent last 23 years. What happened in Tunisia was just a tip of the iceberg. What followed and what is yet to follow is a certain change. The symphony of this change which started in Tunisia soon began to be heard in the streets of neighboring Arab countries who had been tormenting underneath their persecutors as had been the Tunisians. A mass exodus with a wake-up call for the govt. could be seen in almost all Arab countries with varying counts, varying impact but with a common and rational demand of basic rights. Of all the Arab countries, probably Egyptians were the one who got most convinced with the possibility of a Change by seeing the glaring example of their Tunisian counterparts.
Though Egyptians had already begun their struggle against the Authoritarian Hosni Mubarak, a couple of incidences by the govt. followed by Tunisian uprising led to one of biggest protests which is now scripted in the annals of history as Lotus Revolution. In Egypt, it all started with Alexandria when on the new year day of 20111, a bomb near the church killed 23 Copts (Egyptian Christians are called Copts and are in minority now) left 97 injured. A year back in 2010 on the Christmas eve, a Muslim gunman who happened to be a govt. official fired 7 Copts to death avenging the rape of a Muslim girl by a Christian. The Christian Copts alleged the govt. of being biased, careless and negligent to the Minority. The govt. first claimed that the bomb was planted by some Terrorist group and later when that group denied to take the responsibility, they said, it was an accidental car explosion. Sources from Egypt later confirmed that it was an intended suicide attempt and the bomb was also homemade. Though Christians Copts and Islamist groups often got into rivalry but once they discovered that these are nothing but tantrums of govt. to deviate people’s attention from their agenda, both were found streaming into Tahreer Square for a common demand. By the time these developments were picked up by Egypt, Tunisia had already written a history. On 17th Jan, this time in Egypt, one guy immolated in front of the Egyptian Parliament followed by few others in different parts of the country only to add Miseries to the 30-year old dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak.
Though the history is full of such cases where people have made mockeries to empires on the strength of Protests , Civil Disobedience, Strikes, Suicides etc however it had never been as magical as it was in case of Egypt or Tunisia. Having seen the worst of the extremism on 17th of Jan, people who knew the powers of technology and had access to it realized how they can stir up the revolution and make it more effective than ever. On 18th of Jan, this lady Asmaa Mahfouz uploaded a Video as wakeup call to ignite up the brains of the youth, the major chunk of Egyptian Population on her You-tube blog here and here. Tweets from the young and educated enthusiasts like this, this and this on the micro blogging sites like Twitter slowly began to shape this revolution. Wael Ghonim, Marketing Head, Google, Middle East region had formed up a Facebook page called, “We are all Khalid Said” named after Khalid Said who was beaten like a beast in Jun 2010 till he died merely because he owned some video clips which showed cops involved in drug deal. The number of visits to this page and other such pages grew up exponentially and hence swept the nation with a wave.
The date fixed for this religious work was 25th Jan when they were ought to celebrate National Police Day. Response of the crowd had been such that almost the entire Egypt had occupied important public intuitions such as High Court, Assembly etc in their respective cities to show anger and the might of what poverty and ignorance can do. No wonder govt. used tear gas, curfew, fake promises and several other measures to put the Protestants back to the home but then it was not the fight for Islam or Christianity. Nor was it a fight for Power or Chair. It was a fight for Human rights. The right to breathe in a free air. The right for self-respect. The right to get a job and earn a livelihood. The right to set an example not only to the Islam but to the bigot US and the rest of the World. This protest which started on 25th Jan never stopped till it met almost similar consequences as the Tunisia. In-spite of repeated assurances for social reforms, jobs, economic equality, peace and prosperity, the Hosni had to step down within 18 days and Like Tunisians, today the Supreme Council for Egyptian military is the care taker govt. there having the responsibility to bring in a new regular govt. President Mubarak is said to be in the resort of Sharm-el-Sheikh somewhere in Red sea. Today, if you search for Hosni Mubarak in google, it suugests, “ Hosni Mubarak death” as one of the search strings. Yep, this is not a fiction but a fact.
And thus they say that they have achieved freedom. The atmosphere in these countries is charged and electric. They are celebrating a well deserved victory. Veterans are forecasting on how it is going to change the global power division and the Islamist might.
Being optimistic, I am hopeful that a few more Arab countries might be able to script a similar History before I come up with the next part of this article which shall laser on the other side of the coin and the challenges that come intertwined with this freedom and a change that looks more inevitable and to me somehow overhyped. You may mull over this issue and put across your comments. I shall address them once I write my next post. Till then, Take care.
References: Wikipedia, Google, Facebook, Twitter
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