28 Facts About Mohamed Bouazizi


Tarek el-Tayeb Mohamed Bouazizi was a street vendor who set himself on fire on 17 December 2010 in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia, an act which became a catalyst for the Tunisian Revolution and the wider Arab Spring against autocratic regimes.


Mohamed Bouazizi's self-immolation was in response to the confiscation of his wares and the harassment and humiliation inflicted on him by a municipal official and her aides.


The protests included several men who emulated Mohamed Bouazizi's act of self-immolation, in an attempt to bring an end to their own autocratic governments.


Those men and Mohamed Bouazizi were hailed by New York Times commentators as "heroic martyrs of a new North African and Middle Eastern revolution".


In 2011, Mohamed Bouazizi was posthumously awarded the Sakharov Prize jointly along with four others for his and their contributions to "historic changes in the Arab world".


Mohamed Bouazizi, who was known locally as "Babousa", was born in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia, on 29 March 1984.


Mohamed Bouazizi's father left a three-hectare plot of land whose produce hardly provided for the family.

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Mohamed Bouazizi's uncle tried to build a farm that uses irrigation water by taking a loan from a bank to finance the project.


Mohamed Bouazizi supported his mother, uncle, and younger siblings, including paying for one of his sisters to attend university, by earning approximately US$140 per month selling produce on the street in Sidi Bouzid.


Mohamed Bouazizi was working toward the goal of buying or renting a pickup truck for his work.


However, while some sources state that street vending is illegal in Tunisia, and others that Mohamed Bouazizi lacked a required permit to sell his wares, according to the head of Sidi Bouzid's state office for employment and independent work, no permit is needed to sell from a cart.


Mohamed Bouazizi did not have the funds to bribe police officials to allow his street vending to continue.


Mohamed Bouazizi, angered by the confrontation, went to the governor's office to complain and to ask for his scales back.


Mohamed Bouazizi was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he was placed in an intensive care unit.


Mohamed Bouazizi was transferred to a second, larger hospital in Sfax, more than 110 kilometres away, and then to the Ben Arous Burn and Trauma Centre in the capital, 270 kilometres away.


On 31 December 2010, doctors reported that Mohamed Bouazizi was in stable condition, and that he was showing a positive possibility of recovery.


Mohamed Bouazizi was visited in the hospital by then-President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.


Mohamed Bouazizi's grave was described by Al-Jazeera as "simple" and surrounded by cacti, olive, and almond trees.


Mohamed Bouazizi said her second arrest was "in response to the demands of the Tunisian protesters", and that the Tunisian security authorities informed him that she was being held only for her own protection and would be released once the protesting ended.


Mohamed Bouazizi is credited with galvanising the frustrations of the region's youth against their governments into the mass demonstrations, revolts, and revolutions that have become known as the Arab Spring.


One year on, Tunisian writer and academic Larbi Sadiki asserted that Mohamed Bouazizi's self-immolation "changed the course of Arab political history", achieving the "breakthrough in the fight against autocracy".


Mohamed Bouazizi is considered a martyr by the Progressive Democratic Party of Tunisia.


Tarak Ben Ammar, another Tunisian film director, intends to make a film on Mohamed Bouazizi as well, stating he is "a hero for us as Tunisians and the Arab world as a whole".


Since suicide is forbidden in Islam, Mohamed Bouazizi's self-immolation created controversy among scholarly Muslim circles.


Mohamed Bouazizi was posthumously awarded the 2011 Sakharov Prize as one of "five representatives of the Arab people, in recognition and support of their drive for freedom and human rights".

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Mohamed Bouazizi's actions triggered a number of self-immolations, in protests emulating his own, in several other countries in the Greater Middle East and Europe.


The first reported case following Mohamed Bouazizi's death was that of Mohsen Bouterfif, a 37-year-old father of two, who set himself on fire when the mayor of Boukhadra, Tebessa Province refused to meet with him and others regarding employment and housing requests on 13 January 2011.


Mohamed Bouazizi's act of protest helped instigate weeks of protest and, later, the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on 11 February 2011.