Coming Full (Closed) Circle

by Matthew Shaffer

Remember how this whole Arab Spring thing started? One could be excused for having forgotten by now. In Tunisia, a fruit vendor, Mohammed Bouazizi had a dispute with a policewoman, who publicly humiliated and slapped him. He set himself on fire in protest. He was filmed, and blogged, and tweeted and retweeted, galvanizing Arab youths. He died three weeks later, January 5th, as the protests in the Muslim world began to pick up — 9 days later, President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali left office. Now, Bouazizi’s family has forgiven and dropped charges against the policewoman. From the AP:


A Tunisian court dropped charges Tuesday against a policewoman whose dispute with a fruit vendor sparked a chain of events that unleashed uprisings around the Arab world.

The state news agency TAP says the case against Fedia Hamdi was closed after the vendor’s family withdrew its original complaint. The family says it acted in a gesture of tolerance and an effort to heal wounds suffered in Tunisia’s upheaval of recent months.

The case was at the heart of what has become a season of protests against autocratic leaders stretching across Arab lands from Yemen to Morocco.

The police officer was accused of slapping vendor Mohamed Bouazizi in December in the provincial Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid. Bouazizi’s wares were confiscated on the ground that he didn’t have a permit…

“All the money in the world can’t replace the loss of Mohamed who sacrificed himself for freedom and for dignity,” his brother, Salem Bouazizi, said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “We are proud of him.”

Mideast Watch

Tracking events in the Arab World.