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Arab World: Thank You Mohamed Bouazizi! Thank You Sidi Bouzid!

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Tunisia, History, Human Rights, Politics, Protest

This post is part of our special coverage Tunisia Revolution 2011 [1].

Netizens around the world today commemorate the first anniversary of the Arab revolution, sparked by the self-immolation of fruit and vegetable vendor Mohammed Bouazizi [2] in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia.

What started as a one-man protest for dignity ignited the Arab world and beyond with a revolutionary fire, that is still raging and yet to be extinguished despite the attempts of dictators and their supporters. Bouazizi set himself on fire [3] on December 17 and died on January 4.

Millions of Arabs have since risen across the region, calling for wide ranging political, legislative, social and economic reforms. Once quashed by their dictatorships, people upped their demands, calling for a change in the regime. Zeine Al Abedeen Ben Ali of Tunisia was the first to fall in January; followed by Hosni Mubarak of Egypt in February; and then Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, who ruled Libya for 42 years, was toppled and killed in October.

The fall of those three dictators are milestones in this protest movement, started on December 17, 2010, and dubbed by the Western media as the Arab Spring. But the Arab revolutions are far from over.

Today netizens pay tribute to Mohamed Bouazizi, whose action snowballed, putting Arab people, their needs and aspirations at the forefront of political debate around the world. As I write this, protesters are continuing to be killed, persecuted and attacked across the region, with token gestures from world powers calling on dictatorships to show restraint in their treatment of demonstrators.

Thousands of people have since lost their lives, and tens of thousands more have been injured and maimed. Many of the protest movements are showing no sign of slowing down, and dictators, who refuse to face the destiny of Ben Ali, Mubarak and Gaddafi and their clans, are showing no signs of giving in.

Mohamed Bouazizi's grave in Sidi Bouzid [4]

Mohamed Bouazizi's grave in Sidi Bouzid. Photo shared by Ayman Mohyeldin on his Facebook page

On Twitter, Mauritanian Mouritaniya commemorates [ar] BouAzizi's death saying:

رحمة الله عليه , مات فأحيا أمة
@mouriytaniya [5]: May Allah rest your soul in peace. He had died to give birth to a nation.

And Tunisian Imen B adds [ar]:

الثورة سراب و لكن سيدي بوزيد واقع
@__Imen [6]: Revolution is a mirage but Sidi Bouzid is a reality

Tunisian Mohammed Ali Chebaane reflects on the occasion in a succession of tweets.

@MedAliChebaane [7]: Today I don't celebrate, today I remember ~ Work, Freedom, National Dignity. #SidiBouzid

@MedAliChebaane [8]: I went to #SidiBouzid over 10 times this year and I know that the same frustration is still alive over there! #DontForget

@MedAliChebaane [9]: One year later, our family still didn't get its financial assets from the old regime thieves. The fight is continuing! #SidiBouzid

Fellow Tunisian Walid Saad notes:

This revolution killed 2 members of my family, and hurt me too much in every possible way. But I will always love it #SidiBouzid #Bouazizi

And Youssef Cherif, also from Tunisia, comments:

: The old times when we were the Global Terrorists are gone; now we are the #Time ‘s #PersonOfTheYear !

Libyan Ismael Zmirli notes:

@ChangeInLibya [10]: Thank you Bouzizi for giving us a sense of pride, our love for our countries back and for making the world realize we're humans too. RIP.

Saudi television presenter Ali Al Dafiri writes [ar]:

بعد هذا اليوم .. أصبح العالمُ العربيُّ عـربـة خضارٍ ثائرة
@AliAldafiri [11]: After today, the Arab world became a revolutionary fruit wagon

Syrian The 47th continues:

@THE_47th [12]: You died.. And so did fear… #RIP #Bouazizi

Yemeni Noon Arabia tweets:

@NoonArabia [13]: Despite ongoing violence & injustice, we're still holding on to the hope, thanks to #Bouazizi who set us free & gave us a reason to resist.

One of Kuwait's 100,000 stateless citizens Mona Kareem reminds us:

@monakareem [14]: Thanks #Bouazizi for reminding us that we have dignity #Arabspring

And Egyptian activist Gigi Ibrahim promises:

@Gsquare86 [15]: On this day last year #BouAzizi set himself ablaze igniting a whole world on their road to freedom, we will never go back ! #FreeEgypt

Meanwhile, I ask:

: Isn't it incredible that since #SidiBouzid things just happen in the Arab world? We are never told who does what: Who kills the people?

For more reactions, check out the hashtags #SidiBouzid [16] and #Bouazizi [17] on Twitter.

This post is part of our special coverage Tunisia Revolution 2011 [1].