Anorak News | Where Is Europe’s Mohammed Bouazizi? Tunisia Has A Message For Europe

Where Is Europe’s Mohammed Bouazizi? Tunisia Has A Message For Europe

by | 14th, January 2011

IN Tunisia Mohammed Bouazizi set himself alight in a protest over unemployment and state control.  He is now dead. Thích Quảng Đức did the same in Vietnam.  In Tunisia  Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the Tunisian president, says he will nto run for office. After 23 years “serving” the people he will go in 2014. He’s already left. He’s in Malta. He will surely end up in Paris. And in his place is Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi.

The Economist reports that Ali

“…turned Tunisia into a police state known for its efficiency. Occasional worries about authoritarian tendencies in more relaxed North African states such as Morocco were frequently referred to as ‘Ben-Alisation’.”

Things are brutal. A police sniper shoots to kill (warning – this is graphic):

But what next? One Egyptian blogger notes:

Revolutions in Egypt, Iran and Pakistan have had the same emotional reaction from people, as they stared in awe at their proclaimed ’saviors’ whose true face has now been revealed. They were no better than the previous leaders.

Nick Baumann is pessimistic:

Elliott Abrams, a former Bush administration official who unfortunately is rarely right about anything, thinks that if democracy can take hold in Tunisia, is could spread elsewhere in the Arab world, too.

Was Mr Bouazizi the catalyst? Yes. At his funeral around 5,000 chanted:

“Farewell, Mohammed, we will avenge you. We weep for you today, we will make those who caused your death weep.”

The truth outs. Foreign Policy‘s Christopher Alexander explains:

Shortly before the December protests began, WikiLeaks released internal U.S. State Department communications in which the American ambassador described Ben Ali as aging, out of touch, and surrounded by corruption. Given Ben Ali’s reputation as a stalwart U.S. ally, it mattered greatly to many Tunisians—particularly to politically engaged Tunisians who are plugged into social media—that American officials are saying the same things about Ben Ali that they themselves say about him. These revelations contributed to an environment that was ripe for a wave of protest that gathered broad support.

What they want are jobs:

The method used to calculate labour statistics has been criticised many times by the International Labour Organisation. The question asked to ascertain employment statistics in a country like Egypt is, “Have you done any paid work during the last week?” If the answer is yes, the person is not counted as unemployed.

“It’s the same in many other Arab countries,” says Achy. But this standard produces a distorted picture of the reality of employment, unemployment and underemployment in the Arab world.

Theodore Dalrymple says such actions point the way to what’s coming in Europe.

The story of the young Tunisian Mohammed Bouazizi, whose suicidal self-immolation was the spark that set Tunisia aflame, is instructive.

He was 26 and had a degree in computer science. Like 200,000 other university graduates in Tunisia (in a population of 10 million), he could not find a job. He then tried selling fruits and vegetables from a stall. However, he did not have bureaucratic permission to do this—such permission being bestowed by other university graduates, lucky or well-connected enough to have found jobs in the public-sector bureaucracy. The police constantly harassed him because he didn’t have the requisite licenses. It is said that he set fire to himself when a policeman spat in his face. …

The penny is not likely to drop soon regarding the fact that governments don’t create jobs; at best, they create the conditions in which jobs can be created. The future of Europe, I fear, can be discerned in Tunis and Algiers.

Posted: 14th, January 2011 | In: Key Posts, Politicians Comment | TrackBack | Permalink