By Toufik Bouachrine
By Toufik Bouachrine
Morocco World News
Casablanca, December 18, 2011
Today is the first anniversary of the martyrdom of Mohammed Bouazizi, the Tunisian vegetable vendor who set himself on fire to keep his dignity, which had endured poverty and marginalization, before it sustained its final insult from a policewoman from Sidi Bouzid.
The latter slapped Bouazizi because he had gone out seeking a living on the street after all doors had been closed in his face. Not only did Bouazizi set fire to his body, but he also ignited many fires among the thrones of Arab dictatorships, which kept an iron curtain between rulers and democracy.
They unleashed tyranny and corruption in their own countries, by destroying the capabilities of the people, and making the Arab citizen ashamed of belonging to states still governed by regulations dating back to the Middle Ages. The King is the State, the Prince is the shadow of God on earth, and the President is the nation’s fate…
The death of Bouazizi signaled the birth of the Arab Spring, which swept away the dictator Ben Ali, the tyrant Mubarak, the insane Qadhafi, and the stubborn Abdullah Saleh.
Meanwhile, Bashar al-Assad is living on borrowed time, raising the number of martyrs before he will be toppled from his rule in Damascus. The rest of Arab rulers, are each testing his methods to find a way out of the predicament of “the end of dictatorships”.
The Arab world had never seen a year as 2011. This is the reason why Bouazizi is the right person to indisputably be the man of the year, because his self-immolation burned five heads of states, and still threatens those remaining in power today.
Authoritarian Arab regimes arranged their corridors so that no one of their opponents would be able to touch their prestige… part of the Islamists were imprisoned, while the others were marginalized; elections were rigged; free media were suffocated, and businessmen were in the ruler’s payroll; where could danger come from, then?
Authoritarian Arab regimes were extremely vigilant of their opponents, except the street, which they mistakenly thought to have been dead, and with no possibility of returning to life.
Arab dictatorships, those coercive and soft alike, played the card of fundamentalism to frighten the West, which were calling for democracy in the Arab world. These dictatorships used terrible security machines to frighten people and invested money and the official media to form an artificial social base for its rule. Yet the ingenuity of people was greater than the cunning of rulers, and in a moment when social and political demands were mixed, the miracle happened.
The first slogan that was raised in Sidi Bouzid, the marginalized city in the south of Tunisia, was: “bread and water, not Ben Ali” then “Benali, you coward, the Tunisian people cannot be humiliated” and “dégage”. Yet, the slogan that did most harm to Ben Ali’s regime is: “Employment is a priority, O, gang of muggers…”
An observation of these slogans gives the following preliminary conclusion: at their base simple social concerns and needs (bread, water …) which reached political aspirations, then outrage for the head of the system, and finally: “dégage”.
Politics were dead, but social demands stayed alive. The elite were domesticated, afraid or detached, but the youth rose up to the challenge. The official media had turned into a propaganda mouthpiece, whereas, social media networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube substituted citizens’ need to communicate without censorship … This was the equation to which head of states did not pay attention.
Translation by Adnane Bennis and editing by Benjamin Villanti
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Morocco World News’ editorial policy.
Toufik Bouachrine is the Editor-in-chief of the Moroccan daily News Paper ‘Akhbar Alyawm’
Morocco World News has exclusive partnership with ‘Akhbar Alyawm’ and is the only entity allowed to publish its content in English. The English version of the story is © Morocco World News. This article can only be published as is with the link to Morocco World News, unless a written consent is given.