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Remembering the fruit vendor who sparked a global revolution, the Arab Spring

Tunisian stamp honoring Mohamed Bouazizi

A year ago Saturday, a poor Tunisian fruit vendor named Mohamed Bouazizi killed himself.

This sparked public protest in his village, which then spread to all of Tunisia and became a successful call for the country’s corrupt President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali to step down. Tunisia’s success inspired similar protests in neighboring countries.

Thus was launched the Arab Spring, which continues today with clashes and deaths of protesters in Egypt, Syria and elsewhere.

Bouazizi didn’t intend to make a political statement. He wasn’t known to be political at all. Bouazizi reportedly set himself on fire in an act of desperation, some might say emotional instability, due to a life of constant harassment and humiliation by officials. Whether he intended it or not, his death sparked a global revolution.

Here are a few stories of note:

NPR The Arab Spring: A Year of Revolution

Canada’s National Post Mohamed Bouazizi: Son of the Whole World

CNN Tunisian on life one year later

TIME Mohamed Bouazizi’s unexpected sequel: A Tunisian soap opera

A video from Al Jazeera:


About Author

Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at] or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.