Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Algeria, Yemen. It’s ubiquitous: the Facebook effect. The media loves talking about it, and people love to watch in admiration as Mark Zuckerberg receives all the credit for an unprecedented Arab revolution across North Africa and the Middle East. But who is truly behind the freedom of millions of Arabs, who deserves the credit? Although his name is not as fancy as “The Harvard Dropout,” he is still worthy of mention and praise. His name is Mohammed Bouazizi, also known as “Basboosa.”
Mohammed Bouazizi is one of many struggling young men in Tunisia. Although mistaken for a college graduate, Bouazizi was a high school dropout who represented many uneducated Tunisian youth. He is best known to have lit himself on fire due to persisting unemployment and the economy’s inability to produce jobs for his class. His suicidal attempt that resulted in his death 18 days later was the trigger for the Tunisian revolution (speaking of starting a movement, check out this TED talk here). Consequently, many cases of self-immolation have surfaced in other Arab countries hoping to provoke a similar uprising. The most notable of which is the Egyptian revolution that owes much of its credit to the one in Tunisian. As of now, Libya is still under the tyranny of al- Gaddafi. Hopefully it won’t be the case in a week from now.
Many have considered Facebook as fuel to widespread Arab revolutions. True, Facebook has eased the exchange of knowledge and had a considerable effect on the Arab revolution. But its role is not very exclusive. Had Facebook remained a college-based website at Harvard, people would have probably used Myspace or Youtube or even traditional newspapers in order to spread the word. It is wrong to assume that Arabs owe their freedom to Mark Zuckerberg or to the Information Technology sector. If anything, we owe it to the tyrants and dictators of Arab countries. They, before everyone else, were the driving force behind all revolutions.
Personally speaking, I thank the movement leaders for bringing back Arab pride. I thank you, Basboosa. May you rest in peace.