Thursday, January 20, 2011 | Categories: Episodes
On December 17th, Mohamed Bouazizi walked up to the regional governor's office in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia. Then he doused himself in gasoline ... and set himself on fire. He died in hospital three days later. Mr. Bouazizi was a 26-year-old university graduate who sold fruit to make a living. His suicidal protest set off a wave of demonstrations that eventually led national uprising. Last week, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled Tunisia after 23 years in power. Yesterday, 33 of his family members were arrested for "crimes against Tunisia." And the Prime Minister has told the President explicitly not to come back. The ruling party is now in talks with opposition leaders, in an attempt to form an interim government that would guide Tunisia to new elections. And the protests are still going on. Those protests couldn't have had the impact they did without people like Lina Ben Mhenni. She documented the protests on her blog: A.Tunisian.Girl.Blogspot.com. Other Tunisians used Twitter or Facebook. And collectively, they helped bring down a regime that many thought was unassailable. Lina Ben Mhenni was in Tunis.
The events in Tunisia have unfolded with staggering speed. But Larbi Sadiki thinks that Tunisians are uniquely well-placed to be able to take advantage of this new, democratic opening. He's a Senior Lecturer in Middle East Politics at the University of Exeter. He was in Doha, Qatar this morning.
Tunisia InfluenceThe events in Tunisia have inspired democratically minded protests in other countries in the region. But it's unclear whether those protests will be able to have a similar impact. For his thoughts on the regional implications, we're joined by Shadi Hamid. He is the Director of Research at the Brookings Doha Center. He has written extensively about Arab politics and democracy in the Middle East. He was in Doha.
Other segments from today's show: