This year Time magazine chose “The Protester.” With the so-called “Arab Spring” being such a big factor in hope and change in the Middle East, it just makes a lot of sense. The Arab Spring started in Tunisia.
It began in Tunisia, where the dictator’s power grabbing and high living crossed a line of shamelessness, and a commonplace bit of government callousness against an ordinary citizen — a 26-year-old street vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi — became the final straw. Bouazizi lived in the charmless Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid, 125 miles south of Tunis. On a Friday morning almost exactly a year ago, he set out for work, selling produce from a cart. Police had hassled Bouazizi routinely for years, his family says, fining him, making him jump through bureaucratic hoops. On Dec. 17, 2010, a cop started giving him grief yet again. She confiscated his scale and allegedly slapped him. He walked straight to the provincial-capital building to complain and got no response. At the gate, he drenched himself in paint thinner and lit a match. (See pictures of Sidi Bouzid.)
“My son set himself on fire for dignity,” Mannoubia Bouazizi told me when I visited her.
“In Tunisia,” added her 16-year-old daughter Basma, “dignity is more important than bread.”
The excellent article written by Kurt Anderson takes us on the journey that started with Mohamed Bouazizi setting himself on fire. It led to other uprisings around the world. After Tunisia it was Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Yemen, Russia, and Greece.
“The Protester” for better or worse, changed the world.
At this time of the year, every year, Time magazines chooses its “Person of the Year,” a tradition that started in 1927. The first choice was in 1927 when its editors selected aviator Charles Lindbergh. At the time it was known as the “Man of the Year.”
It is more often than not, an individual (or as is the case this year, a group of people) that its editors deemed had the single greatest impact during the past year, for better or for worse.
Among the other nominees for 2011 are the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, and SEAL Team 6, who killed Osama bin Laden.
Send John Presta an email and your story ideas or suggestions, firstname.lastname@example.org.
John is the author of an award-winning book, the 2010 Winner of the USA National Best Book award for African-American studies, published by The Elevator Group Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots: How Barack Obama, Two Bookstore Owners, and 300 Volunteers did it. Also available an eBook on Amazon. John is also a member of the Society of Midland Authors and is a book reviewer of political books for the New York Journal of Books