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

Advertisements

Wake Up ‘O My People – A Youth’s Plea


“Which was once formed on the name of peace,
Now roam it freely raven beasts,
Vicious intentions of these shadows of feinds,
Drenched with the blood of its sons are this land’s streets,
Fear is the thorny crown of each heart,
Piercing the inside with each breath taken,
Blasts rock the ground beneath billions of feet,
Prayers on murmuring lips and beliefs left shaken,
With each step of loved ones out of secure doors,
Dread greets each heart beat,

Emergency declared in hospitals,
Cities on high alert,
Back to the dim despondence we revert,
From the little intervals of glimpses of silence,
Considered by us as peace,
Hope and light upon us readily frowns,
Students sit home,
With schools shut down,

With each bomb making a crater,
For many dawns the birth of dooms-day,
Slips the life out of mourning mothers and moaning daughters,
Running to places to collect the remains of dead sons and fathers,
The dark clouds of bereavement linger on many homes,
Stripped are even mosques of security with blood-painted domes,
Laughters disappear from twinkling faces,
For witnessed they have the killings of their parents,
And from their little minds horror fails to be erased,

Targeted are funerals,
Above our heads fly foreign drones,
To oblivious innocents whose lives they leave torn,

Amongst ourselves,
Rove our invitations to death,
Militants under the skin of a human,
Mullahs with beards,
And devils with no beards but sitting on thrones as rulers they appear,

Wake up ‘O My People!
Wake up!
Why do you still sleep after sixty-three years?
When blood-stained are our frontiers?
And the sounds of war unleash in our ears?
Defend your identity,
Raise you head,
Let not the truth of Islam perish,
In what the extremists flourish,
Hands are abandoned by the Creator,
When they remain only to beg and pray!
Wake up ‘O My People And Fight!
For this burning heaven,
This land of pure,
Where rascals rule!
How many more tears will you shed?
To your children will you tell of a life of fear that you lead?
And the coming tomorrow,
That belongs to you!
Make Jinnah’s Pakistan with the blood in your veins,
Wake up and and salvage your fate!”

Hafsa Khawaja

Feast Of Change – A Poetic Perspective


For the feast of change,
I refuse to wait,
And deprived I will choose to remain from its divine taste,

Close I shall my eyes to its existence, considering it a fallacy,
As rather I’d die than savor such a delicacy,
Which by others is served to me on a plate,
For how brazen it is,
To eat from another’s meal?
When only to have it, I have yearned,
And to acquire it, never burned?

Undeserving I will be of each second I breathe if I feed on such a treat,
Until I sweat to blood,
Stirring the cauldron to awaken hunger for it in every stomach,
And together with others, help to prepare the feast with my own two hands,
Not for me, not for you,
But for those who have waited too long,
The famished people of my land.

– Hafsa Khawaja

”Let The Change Stem From Within”


“62 years ago,
By Jinnah, this land was on us bestowed,
Unity, Faith and Discipline its foundation,
Walking on thorny roads through the scorching heat of struggle and hardships,
Migrated the Muslims to this land for their future generations with great expectations..

Brimmed their eyes with hopes of parity, justice, tolerance and egalitarianism,
Desired they a land, replete with peace and devoid of religious sectarianism,
But soon, their dreams of prosperity shattered,
And at the hands of dictatorship, their fate battered,
Sybarites ate out of my soil’s flesh,
Every time, they escaped their time to be threshed,
Often unfurled the flags of democracy,
Banished were great leaders and of democracy was made a mockery,
To be the peoples’ saviour, many claimed,
Yet, each forgoed Jinnah’s dream and Iqbal’s vision,
And to the name of Pakistan, they brought shame,
On the fair face of Pakistan,
Thrown were blotches of injustice, corruption and brutality,
Raped was my country’s dignity and sovereignity….

Bleeds now my soil and in the sea of conflicts and problems, it drowns,
Infected is my homeland by terrorism’s cancer,
With a former dictator’s incisions,
My land is scarred and has many divisions…

Yet, not far off my eyes detect hope’s glimmer,.
In my heart, the light of love for my country does not get any dimmer,
Burns my soul with my country’s situation,
With my patriotism’s guidance,
And Mohammad (PBUH) as my source of motivation,
The evils of our society I shall uproot,
For the Pakistan, Jinnah and Iqbal envisioned,
And for the dawn of parity, liberality, altruism and progress,
I will contribute
I vow to serve my beloved land and make a change
By making it stem from within…”

 

Hafsa Khawaja