The day a single man sparked a revolution

George Jones, Renaissance College
George Jones, Renaissance College |

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Street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi, 26, set himself on fire in the centre of the Tunisian town of Sidbouzid after police confiscated his fruits and vegetables. He did it to protest against high unemployment.

The horrific scene of his body in flames in the town square triggered widespread unrest in Tunisia. It made then president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali step down and flee to Saudi Arabia with his family.

For 23 years, Ben Ali ruled Tunisia with an iron fist, placing heavy restrictions on freedom of speech and censorship on media access.

Ben Ali's government was disbanded on January 14, and the interim "Unity Government" took charge, headed by Prime Minister Ghannouchi and interim President Mebazaa, with members from opposition parties. While Ben Ali may have been ousted, people are still protesting as old ministers have been included in the "Unity Government". It is also believed that supporters of the fallen Ben Ali are sparking violence across the country.

So while the people may have overthrown the dictator, the regime still exists as long as there are those who support it. Tunisia now lies in an extremely volatile state, though many hope for a more open, more democratic country. It will be a long road ahead for the people of Tunisia. Change will come, and though it may take years, they are now halfway out of the dark.

And it all started with the actions of a single man, Mohamed Bouazizi.