“The inspiration for the Arab Spring, Mohammad #Bouazizi was born today in 1984. rest in peace.”
Published by Assia Boundaoui on the social networking website Twitter, this statement commemorated a man whose name has become synonymous with revolution in Arab societies today.
Tarek al-Tayeb Muhammad Bouazizi - known as Mohammad Bouazizi or simply Bouazizi – is largely credited with sparking the Arab uprisings that took the Middle East by storm in the past few months.
“The spark of Arab revolutions was born today (March 29, 1984) Mohammed #Bouazizi May you RIP!” read a tweet published by ‘FreeLibya’ on Twitter.
Bouazizi would’ve turned 27 today had he been alive.
In Sidi Bouzid, a small town in Tunisia, Bouazizi set himself on fire in protest to poor living conditions and oppression.
This action sparked a nationwide uprising that saw Tunisian strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali flee to Saudi Arabia less than a month after the incident, his regime collapsing in the wake of his departure.
A fruit vendor making a meager living, Bouazizi was harassed many times for not having a license to sell in the street, was finally punished by confiscation of his cart and humiliation by the police.
This led Bouazizi to attempt to complain to the governor about this treatment from police, when the governor would not meet him, he doused himself with paint thinner and lit himself with a match, as he had threatened he would do if his complaint was not heard.
Bouazizi died 18 days later, being transformed into an undying symbol for the Tunisian revolution, and for the subsequent uprisings in the region.
He was seen as a martyr for dignity and freedom across the region.
“[H]onor the memory of Mohamed #Bouazizi stand for people's right in free speech and a better future, he lit the torch of freedom” said Nadia Al Sheikh on Twitter.
Another Twitter user by the name Syrian Pearl said “I think about you every single day. Your legacy will never be forgotten. Thank you. May you rest in peace.”
There is no doubt that the impact of Bouazizi’s actions travelled like wildfire in a region where the majority are or were recently ruled by repressive despots.
Bouazizi’s name was written on countless placards in hundreds of protests that continue to fill Arab Street for the third month in a row.
It is evident that emotions of strong gratitude to Bouazizi are echoed from Bahrain to Libya.
A tweet by Spurious shows this clearly, where he says that “[t]here seriously needs to be a statue of #Bouazizi in #Tahrir Square. Without him we would still have Mubarak. RIP good sir.”