From the Embers (Documentary)


It began as an uprising in Tunisia, spread to Egypt and Libya and got bogged down in Bahrain and Syria. Our documentary this morning is about the man who started it all, a fed-up fruit-seller in Tunisia, who launched what we now know as the Arab Spring.

Part Two of The Current

From the Embers (Documentary)

Mohamed Bouazizi was a poor fruit seller in Tunisia and he is widely thought to have started what we now call the Arab Spring. One-and-a-half years ago, in December of 2010, Mohamed Bouazizi had a humiliating run-in with a low-ranking government official. Later that day, he walked up to the steps of the government building and set himself on fire.

His act of desperate defiance prompted other Tunisians to take to the streets ... and within months, dictators who had clung to power for decades were falling like dominos. Today, the legacy of the Arab Spring is still being hotly contested ... as seen in the aftermath of the elections in Egypt and Syria's descent into something that now looks more like civil war.

Here's Piya Chattopadhyay's documentary about where it all began. It's called "From The Embers" and it first aired on The Current in January.

Mohamed Bouazizi's family have since left Sidi Bouzid and now lives in the capital, Tunis. They say they were harassed by members of the former ruling party and criticized by neighbours who said they were being paid for giving interviews to journalists, something the family denies. Mohamed Bouazizi's sister, Leila got married in the spring. She has also been meeting with immigration officials at the Canadian embassy and hopes to emigrate to Canada.

As for the municipal inspector who's alleged to have slapped Mohamed Bouazizi, she was suspended, arrested and spent four months in jail. She was freed in April and returned to work. She says she and her family have suffered greatly as a result of the incident and that she has been made a scapegoat. She continues to deny slapping Mohamed.

Special thanks to The Current's Pacinthe Mattar, whose research and translation work was instrumental in preparing this documentary.

Last Word - Nina Krieger

We leave you today with a preview of something we're working on for later in the week... a story about a little known chapter in Canada's history. In the early 1940s, Jews who arrived in Canada, fleeing Nazi Germany were classified as "enemy aliens" and sent to internment camps. A new exhibit at the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre is presenting the stories of some of the people who were interned and their experiences in the camps.

Here are some thoughts from Nina Krieger, the Curator of the exhibit ... and two men who were interned in the camps, Walter Kohn, who went on to be a Nobel-Prize-winning scientist and Rabbi Erwin Schild from Toronto.

Other segments from today's show:

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