08 October 2011

Mohamed Bouazizi, Hero

This is the person we owe the inspiration for Occupy Wall Street

Mohamed Bouazizi, the fruit vendor who died after setting himself on fire, has become a symbol of defiance in Tunisia.
The revolution in Tunisia was born through a slap in the face of Mohamed Bouazizi by a honest but arrogant lady municipal inspector, Faida Hamdy, 45, in Sidi Bouzid, a police officer’s daughter. This revolution was not triggered by a political speech or by some provocative act of repression by the dictator. It was set in motion by an altercation between a honest but cruel municipal inspector and a honest and poor vegetable vendor.
Let us read this great story. Mohamed Bouazizi, the poor fruit vendor, spent his whole life on a dusty, narrow street here, in a tiny, three-room house with a concrete patio where his mother hung the laundry and the red chilis to dry. By the time Mr. Bouazizi was 26, his work as a fruit vendor had earned him just enough money to feed his mother, uncle and five brothers and sisters at home. He dreamed about owning a van.
Faida, the honest Municipal Inspector during the course of her duties inspected buildings, investigated noise complaints and fined vendors like Mr. Bouazizi. It was not known whether his business was legal or not.
Other vendors said that on the morning of Dec. 17, Faida tried to confiscate Mr. Bouazizi’s fruit, and then slapped him in the face for trying to yank back his apples. This act of bravado by the lady inspector humiliated a man who eked out his living by hard work.
Bouazizi, who became embarrassed and angry, wrestled with Ms. Faida. In the meantime, two of her colleagues started beating Bouazizi and confiscated his electronic scale. Then, the disheartened vegetable vendor walked a few blocks to the municipal building and demanded his property. But he was again beaten. Then he marched to the governor’s office, demanding an audience but he was refused.
Unable to bear with this humiliation, the frustrated man, sometime around noon, in the two-lane street in front of the governor’s high gate, drenched himself in paint thinner and then lit himself on fire. He was immediately hospitalized and the doctors treated this as a case of 90 percent burns. Ultimately, he died on Jan. 4. This incident immediately triggered street protests that started over Mr. Bouazizi’s treatment in Sidi Bouzid and then spread to cities throughout the country.
The blood of this martyr brought about a revolution in Tunisia and drove the dictator away from the nation.

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