From Fascination To Inspiration : What Tunisia’s Revolt Signifies & Teaches Us

Seldom does the world get to witness nations standing up to take hold of their country from tyrannical heads and their atrocious hands.

Recently it did, watching in fascination as Tunisians came out on the streets to revolt against the corrupt and autocratic government of Ben Ali, their President in power since 1987.

What eventuated this uprising in opposition of unemployment, inflation and for civil liberties that lead to Ben Ali absconding the country just after 29 days of unrest as a young, jobless man Muhammad Bouazizi.
International Business Times writes about him under the title  ‘The Story of Mohammed Bouazizi, The Man Who Toppled Tunisia’ :
“Mohamed Bouazizi was a 26-year-old Tunisian with a computer science degree.

Like millions of angry and desperate Tunisians, he faced the unpleasant combination of poor employment prospects and food inflation. Moreover, the Tunisian government was seen as corrupt and authoritarian.
By December 17, resentment against authorities has been brewing for a while.
To make ends meet, the unemployed Bouazizi sold fruits and vegetables from a cart in his rural town of Sidi Bouzid, located 160 miles from the country’s capital Tunis. He did not have a license to sell, but it was his sole source of income.

On December 17, authorities confiscated his produce and allegedly slapped his face.
Bouazizi became incensed.

He then drenched himself in gasoline and set himself on fire outside the governor’s office. Bouazizi survived his initial suicide attempt. After being transported to a hospital near Tunis, he was visited by President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali before passing away on January 4.



After his suicide attempt, unrest broke out in Sidi Bouzid. The police cracked down on the protestors, which only fueled the movement. The revolt eventually spread to the capital city.”
For decades, many a nations under totalitarian regimes have eagerly fancied the idea of a revolution – waiting for the ‘right time’ and a leader to take them forward to actualize it but Tunisians have shown that when it comes to taking back the ownership of their country, no nation needs a leader rather their actions have asserted the reality that nations are their own leaders.
Those who had been following the unfolding of events in the Arab country since December had their thoughts about the marches, protests and riots dangling between doubts over their success yet the citizens of Tunisia proved that it is people like them who deserve a country and freedom – for they value and fight for it and in the end, the power and will of the people is what will always surface to reign high.

Award-winning columnist and an international public speaker on Arab and Muslim issues, Mona El-Tahawy has penned-down a notable piece on the happening in The Washington Post:

For decades, a host of Arab dictators have justified their endless terms in office by pointing to Islamists waiting in the wings. Having both inflated the egos and power of Islamists and scared Western allies into accepting stability over democracy, those leaders were left to comfortably sweep “elections.”

Ben Ali was elected to a fifth term with 89.62 percent of the vote in 2009.

All around him is a depressingly familiar pattern. Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi (68 years old) has been in power since 1969; Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh (64) has ruled since 1978 and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (82) since 1981. Algeria’s Abdelaziz Bouteflika (73) is a relative newcomer, having been in power only since 1999. Not so much fathers as grandfathers of their nations, these autocrats cling to office – and are increasingly out of touch with their young populaces.

No doubt, every Arab leader has watched Tunisia’s revolt in fear while citizens across the Arab world watch in solidarity, elated at that rarity: open revolution.”

This is not only a matter of much relevance and significance for Arabs but also countries like Pakistan, which today staggers towards the precipice of danger finding it hard to balance the burden of terrorism, inflation, poverty, rife corruption, institutional dysfunctions etc – hoisted on its back by years of military rule and political tug of wars for control of the state.

One hopes that the result of the Tunisian rebellion and revolt is a domino effect. Are Egypt, Algeria, Jordan, Syria or Pakistan next? After all, the nations of these countries do possess simmering feelings of frustration and have been forced to swallow too many bitter pills over the years.

Every population is as capable as that of Tunisia to kick start a movement of dissent yet what most of them lack currently is the will, unity and valor of the Tunisians to exercise this, for which they must be saluted.
An Egyptian friend and youth pertinently comments on the whole situation:

All we lack is the start. What started it in Tunisia is one of the most commonly incidents that you can see daily, a simple man burning himself up protesting for being unemployed, which led to one of the biggest protests in the Tunisian history…

We also need to realize that its our own countries not theirs (rulers), so every right in these countries is ours, not them being so ‘kind’ giving them to us. We should be the feared side.

While it may be too soon or facile to term this revolt a complete success, it has come to symbolize what can be labeled as an inspiration for countless countries and future order of events.

 Vive Le Tunisia!


– Hafsa Khawaja

17 comments on “From Fascination To Inspiration : What Tunisia’s Revolt Signifies & Teaches Us

  1. WEll, Hafsa, this is great, I loved it! And, I loved your blog : ))

    • Thank you very much for the appreciation and reading my posts! : )
      I really found your blog to be interesting too, liked the page on FB.
      And sure, you can post this there.

  2. Yay! Thank you! I am proud you joined my page and loved my blog!

  3. Delirium says:

    There are DEFINITE parallels that may be drawn when we juxtapose the circumstances in Tunisia with Pakistan.

    Corruption and unemployment are rampant. Spiral of inflation ascends like anything. Poor governance compounds the grave problems of poverty, hunger, disease and deprivation. People are resorting to extremes like suicide, extortion and killings.

    Ripple effect is already there and vibes of change have been generated _At least in the region and vicinity of Tunisia. The question is whether the developments will lend sufficient impetus to heat things up to the flash point or will the atmosphere normalize with the change of government in Tunisia ?

    A great post and a wonderful blog! Nice to have stumbled upon it 🙂

    • I am of the same mind as you on this topic but it is surely surprising to be cognizant of the similarities between Pakistan and Tunisia, yet the dissimilar reactions on both sides.

      Have we become benumbed to the happenings around us?
      Tunisia still has a long way to tread upon but their revolt is the definiely the possible beginning of a new chapter in Arab history.

      Thank you very much for sparing time to read through my musings and appreciating me, it is much valued! 🙂

  4. […] said, however, skeptics said the exact same things about Tunisia in the early stages of its revolt. Somehow, at some point, a tipping point was reached, the dams broke and the flood of popular […]

  5. Sakib Ahmad says:

    Well, Egypt has already exploded. Let’s hope others will follow suit.

    In Pakistan we have a more subtle problem because instead of the oppressive dictatorships of Arab countries we have a bogus democracy under which our leaders are chosen by the USA. I have aired two solutions at my blog, one of which harks back to the Tunisian experience:

    “Seems to me that a revolution, Tunisia-style, could be another possibility. Are the people of Pakistan ready to explode?”

    • Others are definitely going to follow Om Id Dunya!

      The thing is, we can not be compared to Egypt or Tunisia – in an evident sense. One must study the history and present of both Arab nations.
      We, the Pakistani people, are at fault. We elect the same scoundrels again and again who in turn treat USA like their daddy.
      Afterall, we had Bhutto Sahab too – could the West dictate to him?

      What Pakistan needs is evolution of mind, an intellectual revolution.
      I wrote my two cents on this debate here:

      Am just going to read yours!

  6. Sakib Ahmad says:


    I have read your article. I am afraid I strongly disagree with some aspects of it.

    Please do make an effort to acquaint yourself with the WikiLeaks revelations, with the reports of American investigative journalists (Pakistan Taliban being a creation of the CIA, Pakistan being flooded with Blackwater/Re and other contractors, etc), and the recent disclosures of al-Jazeera and the Guardian (a British newspaper) about the USA government’s role in the monstrosity that has been, for years, referred to as the “peace process between the Palestinians and Israel”.

    While it is true that we are primarily responsible for the position we find ourselves in, it is the height of folly to turn a blind eye to the sordid machinations of foreign governments. I hope you will have read my current blog post. Please also do read the two immediately preceding blogs as well:

    “The End of Conspiracy Theories” and “Anne Patterson, Queen of Pakistan”.

    Finally, I am NOT talking about a revolution, only the elimination of the gang of criminals who rule Pakistan. I refer to the happenings in Tunisia and Egypt as “explosions”, which I have also jokingly described as “revolution, Tunisia-style”.

    • I welcome a discourse on this topic.

      I must make the point clear that I do not negate the facts that there are an awful lot of influences and interference in Pakistan’s affairs but then again but I am completely antagonistic towards this ‘conspiracy mindset’that is developing at an alarming rate in Pakistan.

      Literally, even the disturbance due to the noise of a cracker is ascribed to either America or Israel – and I am serious here.
      I believe, even you would agree that such an attitude is not only unhealthy but destructive for our country.

      Oh and I can’t seem to comment on your blog posts, could you kindly check if some settings are disabled?

      Even Wikileaks is termed as an ‘Israeli Conspiracy’ here.

      I can’t seem to comment on your two mentioned posts, would you kindly chheck

      • Sakib Ahmad says:

        There are no restrictions applying to comments at my blog. Please try to post your comment from a different computer. I have just changed the ‘comment form placement’ option to ‘pop-up window’. That may or may not help.

        The thing about ‘conspiracy theories’ is that it is a double-edged sword which cuts both ways. The simple Pakistanis are obsessed with it but the cleverer Americans have been using it for years as a tool with which to beat the truth seekers throughout the world. Hence the name of my blog, “Reality and Illusion”.

    • Thank you, that worked.

      You’ve put it in perfect words yourself, that explains much :

      ‘The thing about ‘conspiracy theories’ is that it is a double-edged sword which cuts both ways.’

  7. Rukhpar Mor says:

    You wrote in the comments section that “what Pakistan needs is evolution of mind, an intellectual revolution.” I agree. It’s surprising how living so many miles away from the ‘homeland’, many Pakistanis still lack basic critical thinking skills.

  8. Rukhpar Mor says:

    That was in no way meant to insult the many intelligent Pakistanis. I feel that there is this mindset that we are stuck in-blaming others, believing whatever we hear on the news-that keeps us from moving forward.

  9. […] said, however, skeptics said the exact same things about Tunisia in the early stages of its revolt. Somehow, at some point, a tipping point was reached, the dams broke and the flood of popular […]

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