Name? Mohamed Bouazizi
Westphalian identity? Tunesian
Age? 26 (died 10 years ago)
Why is he in the news? A decade ago this week, the young fruit seller Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire in Tunisia. With this action, he wanted to protest against local police officials who had seized his cart and produce. Bouazizi, feeding his family of eight, made about 3 Euros per day.
Why do we care? While the Arab Spring was hailed by the West as a wave of democratisation in the Middle East, the real nature looks differently 10 years later. While both of us enjoy living in democratic societies ourselves, we are aware that it cannot be regarded as a template of perfection for everyone. Take Tunisia for example: Tunisians are freer to criticise their leaders than before, and their elections are honest. Yet, people are miserable and disillusioned, the revolution has resulted in a drop in living standards. Economic growth has more than halved since 2010 and unemployment is endemic among young people; who make up 85% of the jobless.
Why should you care? Same reason: Appreciate your life in a democracy if you live in one, but do not regard it as the ultimate truth and solution for everyone.
Who else cares? Muammar Gaddafi, another victim to the Arab Spring and foreign involvement (France and the UK). Since his death, Libya went from a relatively stable country to a 10-year long civil war.
What Christmas character is Mohamed Bouazizi? He is the Little Match Girl of the tale from Hans Christian Andersen. Just like her, Mohamed was working to survive by selling low price commodities while maintaining visions for a better future. However, both their deaths did not make a long-lasting positive difference, neither in the tale, nor in Tunisia… Wow, these Danish Christmas tales are not sugarcoating anything, and neither will we at RAIA.