|Biographical detail : ||The ordinary man who became the Arab spring’s figurehead.
A humble fruit vendor, Muhammad Bouazizi, dowsed himself in petrol and set himself ablaze. In doing so he lit a fire across the Arab world that blazes to this day. His act of self-immolation stirred protests in his hometown of Sidi Bouzid that quickly spread across all Tunisia and swept President, Ben Ali who ruled the country for the previous 23 years.
The protest dubbed as “Arab Spring’ spread first to Egypt then to Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and Syria.
The young, honest and hardworking Muhammad was liked by everyone. Every day he went to the market and bought produce, before pushing his barrow to the local souk. He tried to forget the police who would often make his life a misery because he didn’t have the money to bribe them off.
And so life went on. Until 17 December 2010. That day, he was harassed again, and hauled before a more senior official who confiscated his cart and scales. He was reportedly slapped and insulted by an official. Muhammad tried to complain to the superiors but they wouldn’t see him. Despairingly, Bouazizi bought a can of petrol, returned to the municipal building and set himself on fire. In 17 days, he was dead.
Over 5,000 people attended his funeral. Today, Muhammad Bouazizi is a symbol of the quest of the people throughout the region for human dignity and freedom. The main square in Tunis has been renamed after him; the European Parliament posthumously awarded him its Andrei Sakharov Prize. The 2011 Person of the Year issue of the Time magazine displayed an image entitled The Protester: From Arab Spring To Athens, From Occupy Wall Street To Moscow.