Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Another Urban Myth...

But one of monumental proportions in its incendiary lighting of a liberation candle that burned its way around the Arab and Muslim world. Long-simmering resentment of the iron grip of dictators on the lives of people under totalitarian rule erupted in a firestorm of unstoppable rebellion. The catalyst for the momentum fairly basic; not necessarily the freedom that was later espoused, but the lack of employment for the young and inexorably rising basic food prices.

Even where food staples were subsidized, it was not enough to keep gnawing hunger at bay. As energy and transportation costs rose, so too did food costs. And restless young people with no gainful employment have a propensity to seek out meaning in their lives. In the absence of responsibilities because they cannot afford housing, a wife, a family, they turn their attention to brainstorming a rebellion.

Once exceedingly difficult to accomplish under the watchful eye of a police state, made so much more accessible with the instant-transmission miracle of the Internet, cellphones and social networking sites, along with readily available news coverage become commonplace. Conspiracies to unsettle the status quo could be accomplished, alerting accomplices to a workable strategy to confront the oppressors.

And so began the domino effect of a peoples' awakening to their human rights. First in Tunisia, then Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Lebanon, Libya, Syria, (Iran), Algeria and Saudi Arabia. Some successful in seeming to dislodge the canker that made life so miserable for the masses, others creating an actual or a prospective civil war with the loss of lives expendable to their elite governors.

But did it all begin when an officious policewoman insulted the dignity of a young street vendor? Popular modern romantic legend would have it so. And, after all, Fadia Hamdi, the policewoman, was ordered jailed by President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali before he was forced to exit the scene. However, a court heard her plea: "I'm innocent. I did not slap him", and discharged her.

And Mohamed Bouazizi's mother, Manoubia, explained her position before the court: "I leave things in God's hands. For me, it is enough that Mohamed's martyrdom has resulted in freedom and the fall of tyrants." Causing hundreds gathered outside the court to cheer as charges were dropped, shouting "Freedom, Freedom!".

However the protesting maelstrom is not yet fully concluded. The detested dictators that were opposed and deposed are gone, true. But this is the world of modern, political Islamism where the fanatics are in the ascendancy. And people may just discover that the kind of theocratic political tyranny that Iran is burdened with will become their own.

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