Friday, August 26, 2011

'Arab Spring' becoming the Arab Year?

In what has come to be universally known as the "Arab Spring," in less than a year three major countries in North Africa have effectively ended nearly 100 combined years of dictatorial rule under despots named Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, Hosni Mubarak and Moammar Gadhafi.

Seeing the revolutions from Tunisia to Egypt to Libya, it is amazing to recall that these grass-roots pro-democracy movements began with the "Jasmine Revolution" in Tunisia, when a 26-year-old unemployed fruit stand owner named Mohammed Bouazizi set himself on fire after a policewoman confiscated his unlicensed produce stand.

Nobody had any idea at the time that this one young man's sacrifice would motivate an entire generation of young Arab women and men to use social media tools like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to help overthrow dictators who had ruled their respective countries for decades.

As President Obama recently said about Libya: "In just six months, the 42-year reign of Moammar Gadhafi has unraveled. Earlier this year, we were inspired by the peaceful protests that broke out across Libya. more