By Jamal Laoudi
By Jamal Laoudi
Morocco World News
Washington D.C., July 20, 2012
The Arab spring that led to the toppling of presidents Zine El Abidine and Ben Ali of Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Muamar Kaddafi of Libya, and Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen, had been triggered by the actions of Tunisian fruit and vegetable vender Mohamed Bouazizi. Bouazizi set himself on fire on December 17, 2010 before an official government building in the Tunisian city of Sidi Bouzid as a sign of protest against injustice. He later died in a hospital due to his burns.
Today his mother, Manoubia Bouazizi was given a suspended four-month jail sentence in the same city according the Tunisian Justice Ministry. Coincidently, it is this week that a different Tunisian court sentenced the deposed former president Ben Ali in absentia to life in prison.
According to eye witnesses, last Friday Manoubia Bouazizi was in a court building talking to a group of people when a passing judge asked to pass by. That conversation escalated to when she verbally abused him. She was consequently arrested and has been incarcerated ever since in a prison for women in Qafssa.
Reports indicate that Bouazizi was at the court that day to collect official signatures on documents to receive compensation from the government to set up a fund for victims of the Tunisian revolution.
Her lawyers requested that her sentence be reduced citing that she acknowledged her mistake, expressed regrets for it and apologized to the judge. Furthermore, they pointed out that she has no prior criminal record.
They also asked the court to take into consideration her state of mind and the social and psychological pressure she is under for being Mohamed Bouazizi’s mother. CNN Arabic also reported that the Tunisian New Agency said Mrs. Bouazizi will only serve eight days.
According to the London-based “Sharq Awssat,” newspaper, this case did not attract much attention outside of her native city where reactions to her arrest were split. One group believes that she has given so much to Tunisia as it is and that she should be forgiven. This group further argues that there was no crime committed in the first place, noting that heated arguments and hot tempers are a daily phenomenon given the economic struggle that the average Tunisian citizen endures. An opposing group however condoned her arrest and prosecution noting that no one should be given a free pass. No one is above the law.