(CNN) — Mohamed Bouazizi couldn’t have known when he struck that match he would spark the “Arab spring,” but it’s tough to imagine he’d be disappointed.
Bouazizi’s singular act of protest — to light himself afire before a government building in Tunisia’s Sidi Bouzid — set off one of the most collective demonstrations the region has seen in contemporary times.
His uncle, Ridha, a fellow fruit-cart vendor, said the government often demanded bribes and stole goods from them. His nephew’s death, he said, was a result of corruption.
“It was because of their tyranny that Mohamed set himself on fire,” he said.
Tyranny, it must be noted, was not something new to Tunisia. Before President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s ouster, protests were violently quelled. Citizens there had long complained of political repression, corruption and a denial of opportunity in a country where unemployment and rising food prices are oppressors in themselves.
It would seem that the 26-year-old’s martyrdom was not so much driven by tyranny as it was his refusal to fear the tyrants — or death — any longer.
FULL ARTICLE FROM CNN
The Egyptian revolution, itself influenced by the Tunisian uprising, has resurrected a new sense of pan-Arabism based on the struggle for social justice and freedom. The overwhelming support for the Egyptian revolutionaries across the Arab world reflects a sense of unity in the rejection of tyrannical, or at least authoritarian, leaders, corruption and the rule of a small financial and political elite.
Arab protests in solidarity with the Egyptian people also suggest that there is a strong yearning for the revival of Egypt as a pan-Arab unifier and leader. Photographs of Gamal Abdel Nasser, the former Egyptian president, have been raised in Cairo and across Arab capitals by people who were not even alive when Nasser died in 1970. The scenes are reminiscent of those that swept Arab streets in the 1950s and 1960s.
But this is not an exact replica of the pan-Arab nationalism of those days. Then, pan-Arabism was a direct response to Western domination and the 1948 establishment of the state of Israel. Today, it is a reaction to the absence of democratic freedoms and the inequitable distribution of wealth across the Arab world.
We are now witnessing the emergence of a movement for democracy that transcends narrow nationalism or even pan-Arab nationalism and which embraces universal human values that echo from north to south and east to west.
FULL ARTICLE FROM AL JAZEERA
Reporting from Tunis, Tunisia —
In the mornings, barber Fadhi Ayari blasts recordings of Koranic verses from his shop’s stereo. But it’s just a habit, he explains as he turns down the volume. He says he rarely ventures to the mosque just across the street.
He laughs uneasily at the prospect of the long-outlawed Islamist party Nahda, led by exiled sheik Rachid Ghannouchi, rising to prominence in the new Tunisia. Ghannouchi arrived home Sunday after 22 years in exile in Britain to cheers from more than 1,000 supporters gathered at Tunis’ international airport.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE LA TIMES
TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) — The leader of a long-outlawed Tunisian Islamist party returned home Sunday after two decades in exile, telling The Associated Press in his first interview since his return that critics should not compare him to the father of Iran’s Islamic Revolution and should accept that his views are more moderate.
“Some Western media portray me like (Ayatollah Ruhollah) Khomeini, but that’s not me,” Rachid Ghanouchi told the AP after returning to his North African country, where thousands of people welcomed him at the airport, some shouting “God is great!”
Ghanouchi and about 70 other exiled members of Ennahdha, or Renaissance, flew home from Britain two weeks after autocratic President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was forced from power by violent protests.
FULL ARTICLE FROM THE ASSOCIATED PRESS