On December 17th 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi (1984 – 2011), a street vendor in the city of Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia, saw his wheelbarrow of fruit be confiscated once again. Powerless against these continuous harassments by the corrupt authorities and after being publicly humiliated, Mohamed set himself on fire as a final protest against the living conditions imposed on him and the Tunisian lower class. His last act of desperation galvanized what became known as the Arab Spring, a series of mass demonstrations and revolts by the frustrated populations of Arabic countries. Government abolitions and protests turned Mohamed and his act into a martyr and an idol of long lost ideals.
The resulting revolution and overturn of the Tunisian government led many copycats to repeat this self-immolation act in other neighbor countries. These fatidic demonstrations of despair reflected how badly these countries were in need of change. As the monk Thich Quang Duc in Ho Chi Minh, Mohamed’s act now remains a mark in the history of the fight for freedom and equality.
MANUEL PAISANA is a Master Student in Finance at the Nova School of Business and Economics and he comes from Lisbon, Portugal.